CN110945603A - Storing hazardous materials in a formation - Google Patents

Storing hazardous materials in a formation Download PDF

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Publication number
CN110945603A
CN110945603A CN201880049476.0A CN201880049476A CN110945603A CN 110945603 A CN110945603 A CN 110945603A CN 201880049476 A CN201880049476 A CN 201880049476A CN 110945603 A CN110945603 A CN 110945603A
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CN
China
Prior art keywords
borehole
portion
hazardous material
storage
bore
Prior art date
Application number
CN201880049476.0A
Other languages
Chinese (zh)
Inventor
R·A·穆勒
E·A·穆勒
Original Assignee
深度隔离有限公司
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to US201762515050P priority Critical
Priority to US62/515,050 priority
Application filed by 深度隔离有限公司 filed Critical 深度隔离有限公司
Priority to PCT/US2018/035974 priority patent/WO2018226636A1/en
Publication of CN110945603A publication Critical patent/CN110945603A/en

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Classifications

    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B09DISPOSAL OF SOLID WASTE; RECLAMATION OF CONTAMINATED SOIL
    • B09BDISPOSAL OF SOLID WASTE
    • B09B1/00Dumping solid waste
    • B09B1/006Shafts or wells in waste dumps
    • GPHYSICS
    • G21NUCLEAR PHYSICS; NUCLEAR ENGINEERING
    • G21FPROTECTION AGAINST X-RADIATION, GAMMA RADIATION, CORPUSCULAR RADIATION OR PARTICLE BOMBARDMENT; TREATING RADIOACTIVELY CONTAMINATED MATERIAL; DECONTAMINATION ARRANGEMENTS THEREFOR
    • G21F9/00Treating radioactively contaminated material; Decontamination arrangements therefor
    • G21F9/28Treating solids
    • GPHYSICS
    • G21NUCLEAR PHYSICS; NUCLEAR ENGINEERING
    • G21FPROTECTION AGAINST X-RADIATION, GAMMA RADIATION, CORPUSCULAR RADIATION OR PARTICLE BOMBARDMENT; TREATING RADIOACTIVELY CONTAMINATED MATERIAL; DECONTAMINATION ARRANGEMENTS THEREFOR
    • G21F9/00Treating radioactively contaminated material; Decontamination arrangements therefor
    • G21F9/28Treating solids
    • G21F9/34Disposal of solid waste
    • GPHYSICS
    • G21NUCLEAR PHYSICS; NUCLEAR ENGINEERING
    • G21FPROTECTION AGAINST X-RADIATION, GAMMA RADIATION, CORPUSCULAR RADIATION OR PARTICLE BOMBARDMENT; TREATING RADIOACTIVELY CONTAMINATED MATERIAL; DECONTAMINATION ARRANGEMENTS THEREFOR
    • G21F9/00Treating radioactively contaminated material; Decontamination arrangements therefor
    • G21F9/28Treating solids
    • G21F9/34Disposal of solid waste
    • G21F9/36Disposal of solid waste by packaging; by baling

Abstract

A hazardous materials repository, comprising: a borehole extending into the earth and including an entrance at least adjacent the earth's surface, the borehole including a substantially vertical borehole portion, a transition borehole portion coupled with the substantially vertical borehole portion, and a hazardous material storage borehole portion, at least one of the transition borehole portion or the hazardous material storage borehole portion including an isolation borehole portion; a storage tank positioned in the hazardous materials storage bore portion, the storage tank sized to fit from the bore entrance through the substantially vertical bore portion, the transition bore portion, and into the hazardous materials storage bore portion of the bore, the storage tank including an interior cavity sized to enclose the hazardous materials; and a seal located in the borehole, the seal isolating a hazardous material storage borehole portion of the borehole from an entrance to the borehole.

Description

Storing hazardous materials in a formation

Priority declaration

Priority of U.S. provisional patent application No. 62/515,050 entitled "STORING HAZARDOUS materials in a FORMATION", filed 2017 on 5.6.2017, the entire contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.

Technical Field

The present disclosure relates to storing hazardous materials in a formation, and more particularly, to storing spent nuclear fuel in a formation.

Background

Hazardous waste is often placed in long-term, permanent or semi-permanent stores to prevent health problems in people living near the stored waste. Storage of such hazardous waste materials is often challenging, for example, in terms of storage location identification and closure assurance. For example, the safe storage of nuclear waste (e.g., spent nuclear fuel from commercial power reactors, pilot reactors, or even advanced military waste) is considered one of the significant challenges of energy technology. Safe storage of long-life radioactive waste is a major obstacle to the adoption of nuclear energy in the united states and worldwide. Conventional waste storage methods emphasize the use of tunnels, such as the design of the ukawa storage facility. Other techniques include drilling into crystalline basement rock, including vertical drilling. Other conventional techniques include forming tunnels in shallow layers with boreholes emanating from the tunnel walls to allow human access.

Disclosure of Invention

In a general embodiment, a hazardous materials repository includes: a borehole extending into the earth and including an entrance at least adjacent the earth's surface, the borehole including a substantially vertical borehole portion, a transition borehole portion coupled to the substantially vertical borehole portion, and a hazardous material storage borehole portion coupled to the transition borehole portion, at least one of the transition borehole portion or the hazardous material storage borehole portion including an isolation borehole portion directed vertically toward the earth's surface and away from an intersection between the substantially vertical borehole portion and the transition borehole portion; a storage tank positioned in the hazardous materials storage bore portion, the storage tank sized to fit from the bore entrance through the substantially vertical bore portion, the transition bore portion, and into the hazardous materials storage bore portion of the bore, the storage tank including an interior cavity sized to enclose the hazardous materials; and a seal located in the borehole, the seal isolating a hazardous material storage borehole portion of the borehole from an entrance to the borehole.

In an aspect that may be combined with the general embodiment, the isolation bore portion includes a vertically angled bore portion including a proximal end coupled to the transition bore portion at a first depth and a distal end opposite the proximal end at a second depth shallower than the first depth.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, the vertically inclined bore portion includes a hazardous materials storage bore portion.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, the angle of inclination of the vertical angled bore portion is determined based at least in part on a length of a distance associated with a disturbed area of the geological formation surrounding the vertical angled bore portion and a distance tangent to a lowest portion of the storage tank and the substantially vertical bore portion.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, the distance associated with the disturbed region of the geological formation includes a distance between an outer periphery of the disturbed region and a radial centerline of the vertical angled borehole portion.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, the tilt angle is about 3 degrees.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, the isolation bore portion includes a J-section bore portion coupled between a substantially vertical bore portion and a hazardous material storage bore portion.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, the J-section bore portion includes a transition bore portion.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, the hazardous material storage borehole portion includes at least one of a substantially horizontal borehole portion or a vertically angled borehole portion.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, the isolation bore portion includes a vertical relief bore portion coupled to the transition bore portion.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, the transitional borehole portion includes a curved borehole portion between the substantially vertical borehole portion and the vertically undulating borehole portion.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, the hazardous material storage borehole is partially located within or below a barrier layer that includes at least one of a shale layer, a salt layer, or other impermeable layer.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, the hazardous material storage borehole portion is vertically isolated from the subterranean zone including the running water by a barrier layer.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, the hazardous material storage borehole is formed partially below the barrier layer and is vertically isolated from the subterranean zone including the running water by the barrier layer.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, the hazardous material storage borehole is partially formed within the barrier layer and is vertically isolated from the subterranean zone including the mobilized water by at least a portion of the barrier layer.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, the barrier layer includes a permeability of less than about 0.01 millidarcy.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, the barrier layer has a brittleness of less than about 10MPa, where brittleness includes a ratio of a compressive stress of the barrier layer to a tensile strength of the barrier layer.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, the barrier layer has a thickness of at least about 100 feet proximate the hazardous material storage borehole portion.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, a thickness of the barrier layer proximate the hazardous material storage bore inhibits diffusion of the hazardous material out of the storage tank through the barrier layer for a time frame based on a half-life of the hazardous material.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, the barrier layer includes about 20% to 30% clay or organic material by volume weight.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, the barrier layer includes an impermeable layer.

In another aspect combinable with any of the preceding aspects, the barrier layer comprises a leakage barrier defined by a time constant for hazardous material leakage of 10000 or more.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, the barrier layer includes a hydrocarbon or carbon dioxide containing formation.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, the hazardous material includes spent nuclear fuel.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, further comprising at least one jacket assembly extending from at or near the surface of the earth, through the borehole, and into the hazardous material storage borehole portion.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, the storage tank includes a connection portion configured to couple to at least one of a downhole tool string or another storage tank.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, the isolation bore portion includes a helical bore.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, the isolation borehole portion has a particular geometry that is independent of a stress state of a formation into which the isolation borehole portion is formed.

In another general embodiment, a method for storing hazardous material includes: moving a storage tank through an entrance to a borehole extending into the earth's surface, the entrance at least adjacent the earth's surface, the storage tank including an interior cavity sized to enclose a hazardous material; moving the storage tank through a borehole, the borehole including a substantially vertical borehole portion, a transition borehole portion coupled to the substantially vertical borehole portion, and a hazardous material storage borehole portion coupled to the transition borehole portion, at least one of the transition borehole portion or the hazardous material storage borehole portion including an isolation borehole portion directed vertically toward the earth's surface and away from an intersection between the substantially vertical borehole portion and the transition borehole portion; moving the storage tank into the hazardous materials storage bore section; and forming a seal in the borehole, the seal isolating the reservoir portion of the borehole from the entrance to the borehole.

In an aspect that may be combined with the general embodiment, the isolation bore portion includes a vertically angled bore portion including a proximal end coupled to the transition bore portion at a first depth and a distal end opposite the proximal end at a second depth shallower than the first depth.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, the vertically inclined bore portion includes a hazardous materials storage bore portion.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, the angle of inclination of the vertical angled bore portion is determined based at least in part on a length of a distance associated with a disturbed area of the geological formation surrounding the vertical angled bore portion and a distance tangent to a lowest portion of the storage tank and the substantially vertical bore portion.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, the distance associated with the disturbed region of the geological formation includes a distance between an outer periphery of the disturbed region and a radial centerline of the vertical angled borehole portion.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, the tilt angle is about 3 degrees.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, the isolation bore portion includes a J-section bore portion coupled between a substantially vertical bore portion and a hazardous material storage bore portion.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, the J-section bore portion includes a transition bore portion.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, the hazardous material storage bore portion includes at least one of a substantially horizontal bore portion or a vertically angled bore portion.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, the isolation bore portion includes a vertical relief bore portion coupled to the transition bore portion.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, the transitional borehole portion includes a curved borehole portion coupled between a substantially vertical borehole portion and a vertical undulating borehole portion.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, the hazardous material storage borehole is partially located within or below a barrier layer that includes at least one of a shale layer, a salt layer, or other impermeable layer.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, the hazardous material storage borehole portion is vertically isolated from the subterranean zone including the running water by a barrier layer.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, the hazardous material storage borehole is formed partially below the barrier layer and is vertically isolated from the subterranean zone including the running water by the barrier layer.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, the hazardous material storage borehole is partially formed within the barrier layer and is vertically isolated from the subterranean zone including the mobilized water by at least a portion of the barrier layer.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, the barrier layer includes a permeability of less than about 0.01 millidarcy.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, the barrier layer has a brittleness of less than about 10MPa, where brittleness includes a ratio of a compressive stress of the barrier layer to a tensile strength of the barrier layer.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, the barrier layer has a thickness of at least about 100 feet proximate the hazardous material storage borehole portion.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, a thickness of the barrier layer proximate the hazardous material storage bore inhibits diffusion of the hazardous material out of the storage tank through the barrier layer for a time frame based on a half-life of the hazardous material.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, the barrier layer includes about 20% to 30% clay or organic material by volume weight.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, the barrier layer includes an impermeable layer.

In another aspect combinable with any of the preceding aspects, the barrier layer includes a leakage barrier defined by a time constant for hazardous material leakage of 0000 years or longer.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, the barrier layer includes a hydrocarbon or carbon dioxide containing formation.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, the hazardous material includes spent nuclear fuel.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, further comprising at least one jacket assembly extending from at or near the surface of the earth, through the borehole, and into the hazardous material storage borehole portion.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, the storage tank includes a connection portion configured to couple to at least one of a downhole tool string or another storage tank.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, further comprising forming a borehole from the surface to the formation prior to moving the storage tank through an inlet of the borehole extending into the surface.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, further comprising installing a casing in the borehole, the casing extending from at or near the earth's surface, through the borehole, and into the hazardous material storage borehole portion.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, further comprising bonding the casing to the borehole.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, further comprising, after forming the borehole, producing hydrocarbon fluids from the formation, through the borehole, and to the surface.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, further comprising removing the seal from the borehole; and retrieving the storage tank from the hazardous materials storage borehole portion to the surface.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, further comprising monitoring at least one variable associated with the storage tank from a sensor located proximate to the hazardous materials storage borehole portion; and recording the monitored variable at the surface.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, the monitored variable includes at least one of a radiation level, a temperature, a pressure, a presence of oxygen, a presence of water vapor, a presence of liquid water, an acidity, or seismic activity.

In another aspect that may be combined with any of the preceding aspects, further comprising removing a seal from the borehole based on the monitored variable exceeding a threshold; and retrieving the storage tank from the hazardous materials storage borehole portion to the surface.

In another general embodiment, a method for storing hazardous material includes: moving a storage tank through an entrance to a borehole extending into the earth's surface, the entrance at least adjacent the earth's surface, the storage tank including an interior cavity sized to enclose a hazardous material; moving the storage tank through a borehole, the borehole including a substantially vertical borehole portion, a transition borehole portion coupled to the substantially vertical borehole portion, and a hazardous-material storage borehole portion coupled to the transition borehole portion, the hazardous-material storage borehole portion located below a self-repairing geological formation, the hazardous-material storage borehole portion vertically isolated from a subterranean zone including flowing water by the self-repairing geological formation; moving the storage tank into the hazardous materials storage bore section; and forming a seal in the borehole, the seal isolating the reservoir portion of the borehole from the entrance to the borehole.

In another aspect that may be combined with the general embodiment, the self-healing geological formation includes at least one of shale, salt, clay, or dolomite.

In another general embodiment, a hazardous materials repository includes: a borehole extending into the earth and including an entrance at least adjacent the earth's surface, the borehole including a substantially vertical borehole portion, a transition borehole portion coupled to the substantially vertical borehole portion, and a hazardous material storage borehole portion coupled to the transition borehole portion, the hazardous material storage borehole portion being located below a self-repairing geological formation, the hazardous material storage borehole portion being vertically isolated from a subterranean zone including flowing water by the self-repairing geological formation; a storage tank positioned in the hazardous materials storage bore portion, the storage tank sized to pass from the bore entrance through the substantially vertical bore portion, the transition bore portion, and into the hazardous materials storage bore portion of the bore, the storage tank including an interior cavity sized to enclose the hazardous materials; and a seal located in the borehole, the seal isolating a hazardous material storage borehole portion of the borehole from an entrance to the borehole.

In another aspect that may be combined with the general embodiment, the self-healing geological formation includes at least one of shale, salt, clay, or dolomite.

Embodiments of hazardous materials repositories in accordance with the present disclosure may include one or more of the following features. For example, a hazardous materials storage reservoir according to the present disclosure may allow for multiple levels of plugging of hazardous materials in a storage reservoir located thousands of feet underground separate from any nearby live water. Hazardous material storage reservoirs according to the present disclosure may also use proven techniques (e.g., drilling) to create or form storage areas of hazardous material in subterranean areas that have proven to have fluidly sealed hydrocarbons for millions of years. As another example, a hazardous materials repository according to the present disclosure may provide long-term (e.g., thousands of years) storage of hazardous materials (e.g., radioactive waste) in shale formations having geological properties suitable for such storage, including low permeability, thickness, ductility, and the like. Additionally, a greater amount of hazardous material can be stored at lower cost relative to conventional storage techniques, due in part to directional drilling techniques, which can facilitate longer horizontal wellbores, typically over one mile in length. Additionally, rock formations having suitable geological properties for such storage may be found in close proximity to the site where the hazardous material may be found or generated, thereby reducing the risks associated with transporting such hazardous materials.

Embodiments of hazardous materials repositories in accordance with the present disclosure may also include one or more of the following features. The large storage volume in turn allows the storage of hazardous materials without the need for complicated prior processing, such as concentration or conversion to different forms or transfer to tanks. As another example, for nuclear waste, such as from a reactor, the waste may be retained unmodified in its original pellets, or in its original fuel rods, or in its original fuel components containing tens of fuel rods. In another aspect, the hazardous material may be held in the original holder, but an adhesive or other material is injected into the holder to fill the gap between the hazardous material and the structure. For example, if hazardous materials are stored in the fuel rods, which are then further stored in the fuel component, the spaces between the rods (which are typically filled with water when inside a nuclear reactor) may be filled with a binder or other material to provide yet another additional barrier from the environment. As yet another example, the storage of safe and low cost hazardous materials is facilitated while still allowing retrieval of such materials, if the situation deems it advantageous to retrieve the stored materials.

The details of one or more embodiments of the subject matter described in this disclosure are set forth in the accompanying drawings and the description below. Other features, aspects, and advantages of the subject matter will become apparent from the description, the drawings, and the claims.

Drawings

FIG. 1A is a schematic view of an exemplary embodiment of a hazardous materials repository system during a deposit or retrieval operation according to the present disclosure.

FIG. 1B is a schematic diagram of a portion of the exemplary embodiment of the hazardous materials repository system of FIG. 1A, illustrating an exemplary determination of a minimum angle for an inclined portion of the hazardous materials repository system.

FIG. 2 is a schematic view of another exemplary embodiment of a hazardous materials repository system according to the present disclosure during a deposit or retrieval operation.

FIG. 3 is a schematic view of another exemplary embodiment of a hazardous materials repository system according to the present disclosure during a deposit or retrieval operation.

4A-4C are schematic diagrams of other exemplary embodiments of hazardous materials repository systems according to the present disclosure.

Fig. 5A is a schematic top view and fig. 5B-5C are schematic side views of another exemplary embodiment of a hazardous materials storage system.

Detailed Description

Fig. 1A is a schematic illustration of an exemplary embodiment of a hazardous materials storage system, such as an underground location for long-term (e.g., tens, hundreds, or thousands of years, or more) but retrievable safe and stable storage of hazardous materials, according to the present disclosure, during a storage or retrieval operation. For example, turning to FIG. 1A, an exemplary hazardous materials repository system 100 is shown during a deposit (or retrieval, as described below) process, such as during the deployment of one or more hazardous materials tanks in a formation. As shown, the hazardous materials repository system 100 includes a borehole 104 formed (e.g., drilled or otherwise formed) from an earth surface 102 through a plurality of subterranean zones 112, 114, 116, and 132. Although the earth surface 102 is shown as a land surface, the earth surface 102 may also be a sea floor or other underwater surface, such as a lake or ocean floor or other surface below a body of water. Thus, the present disclosure contemplates that borehole 104 may be formed from a drilling location above or near the body of water to below the body of water.

In this example of the hazardous materials repository system 100, the borehole 104 shown is a directional borehole. For example, the bore 104 includes a generally vertical portion 106, the generally vertical portion 106 coupled with a rounded or curved portion 108, the rounded or curved portion 108 in turn coupled to an angled portion 110. As used in this disclosure, "substantially," in the context of reference to borehole orientation, refers to a borehole that may not be exactly vertical (e.g., exactly perpendicular to the earth's surface 102), or exactly horizontal (e.g., exactly parallel to the earth's surface 102), or exactly inclined at a particular inclination angle relative to the earth's surface 102. In other words, vertical boreholes often undulate away from true vertical, they may be drilled at angles away from true vertical, and inclined boreholes often undulate away from true angles of inclination. Further, in some aspects, an inclined borehole may not have or exhibit exactly uniform inclination (e.g., in degrees) over the length of the borehole. Rather, the inclination of the borehole may vary over its length (e.g., by 1-5 degrees). As shown in this example, three portions of the borehole 104-a vertical portion 106, a rounded portion 108, and an inclined portion 110 form a continuous borehole 104 extending into the ground.

In this example, borehole 104 is shown having a surface casing 120, the surface casing 120 being positioned and disposed to extend around borehole 104 from surface 102 into the earth to a depth. For example, the surface shell 120 may be a relatively large diameter tubular member (or a string of members) disposed (e.g., bonded) around the borehole 104 in a shallow layer. As used herein, "tubular" may refer to a member having a circular cross-section, an elliptical cross-section, or other shaped cross-section. For example, in this embodiment of the hazardous materials storage system 100, the surface shell 120 extends from the surface through the surface 112. In this example, the surface layer 112 is a geological formation that includes one or more stratified formations. In some aspects, in this example, the surface layer 112 may or may not include a fresh water aquifer, a salt water or brine source, or other source of kinetic water (e.g., water that passes through a geological formation). In some aspects, the face shell 120 may isolate the borehole 104 from such live water, and may also provide a hanging location for installing other shell strings in the borehole 104. Further, although not shown, a guide sheath may be provided above the surface sheath 120 (e.g., between the surface sheath 120 and the surface 102 and within the surface 112) to prevent drilling fluid from escaping into the surface 112.

As shown, production casing 122 is positioned and disposed within borehole 104 downhole of surface casing 120. Although referred to as a "production" shell, in this example, shell 122 may or may not be subjected to hydrocarbon production operations. Accordingly, jacket 122 refers to and includes any form of tubular member disposed (e.g., cemented) in borehole 104 downhole of surface jacket 120. In some examples of hazardous materials storage system 100, production shell 122 may begin at the end of rounded portion 108 and extend through the entire inclined portion 110. Jacket 122 may also extend into rounded portion 108 and vertical portion 106.

As shown, adhesive 130 is positioned (e.g., pumped) around shells 120 and 122 in the annular space between shells 120 and 122 and borehole 104. Binder 130 may, for example, secure casings 120 and 122 (and any other casings or liners of borehole 104) through the subterranean formation below surface 102. In some aspects, adhesive 130 may be provided along the entire length of the jacket (e.g., jackets 120 and 122 and any other jackets) or, if sufficient for a particular bore 102, adhesive 130 may be used along a particular portion of the jacket. The adhesive 130 may also provide an additional containment layer for the hazardous material in the canister 126.

The borehole 104 and associated casings 120 and 122 may be formed in various exemplary sizes and at various exemplary depths (e.g., true vertical depth or TVD). For example, a guide (conductor) sheath (not shown) may extend down to a TVD of about 120 feet, with a diameter of between about 28 inches and 60 inches. The face shell 120 may extend down to a TVD of about 2500 feet, with a diameter of between about 22 inches and 48 inches. An intermediate shell (not shown) between the surface shell 120 and the production shell 122 may extend down to a TVD of about 8000 feet with a diameter of between about 16 inches and 36 inches. Production shell 122 may extend obliquely (e.g., to surround oblique portion 110) at a diameter of between about 11 inches and 22 inches. The foregoing dimensions are provided as examples only, and other dimensions (e.g., diameter, TVD, length) are contemplated by the present disclosure. For example, the diameter and TVD may depend on the particular geological composition of one or more of the plurality of subterranean zones (112, 114, 116, and 132), the particular drilling technique, and the size, shape, or design of the hazardous materials tank 126 containing the hazardous materials to be deposited in the hazardous materials repository system 100. In some alternative examples, production casing 122 (or other casing in borehole 104) may be circular in cross-section, elliptical in cross-section, or some other shape.

As shown, the vertical portion 106 of the borehole 104 extends through the subterranean zones 112, 114, 116, and 132, and in this example, lands in (reaches) a subterranean zone 119. As described above, the skin 112 may or may not include running water. In this example, the subterranean formation 114 below the surface layer 112 is a hydrodynamic layer 114. For example, the kinetic water layer 114 may include one or more kinetic water sources, such as fresh water aquifers, salt water or brine, or other kinetic water sources. In this example of the hazardous materials repository system 100, the running water may be water that moves through the subterranean zone based on a pressure differential across all or a portion of the subterranean zone. For example, the dynamic water layer 114 may be a permeable geological layer in which water is free to move within the layer 114 (e.g., due to pressure differentials or other reasons). In some aspects, the hydrodynamic layer 114 may be a primary source of human available water in a particular geographic area. Examples of rock formations that may comprise the dynamic water layer 114 include porous sandstone and limestone, among other formations.

Other illustrated layers, such as impermeable layer 116 and storage layer 119, may include immobile water. In some aspects, the immobile water is water that is not suitable for use by humans or animals or both (e.g., fresh water, salt water, brine). In some aspects, the immobile water may be water that cannot reach the mobile water layer 114, the earth's surface 102, or both in 10000 years or more (such as up to 1000000 years) by its movement through the layers 116 or 119 (or both).

In this exemplary embodiment of the hazardous materials repository system 100, below the running water layer 114 is an impermeable layer 116. In this example, impermeable layer 116 may not allow running water to pass through. Thus, impermeable layer 116 may have a low permeability, such as a nano-darcy grade of permeability, relative to dynamic water layer 114. Additionally, in this example, impermeable layer 116 may be a geological layer that is relatively non-malleable (i.e., brittle). One measure of non-ductility is brittleness, which is the ratio of compressive stress to tensile strength. In some examples, the brittleness of impermeable layer 116 may be between about 20MPa and 40 MPa.

As shown in this example, impermeable layer 116 is shallower (e.g., closer to surface 102) than storage layer 119. In this example, impermeable layer 116 may include rock formations including, for example, certain types of sandstone, mudstone, clay, and slate having permeability and brittleness characteristics as described above. In alternative examples, impermeable layer 116 may be deeper (e.g., farther from surface 102) than storage layer 119. In these alternative examples, impermeable layer 116 may comprise igneous rock, such as granite.

Below impermeable layer 116 is a reservoir layer 119. In this example, the storage layer 119 may be selected as a landing for the angled portion 110 that stores hazardous material for a variety of reasons. Storage layer 119 may be thick relative to impermeable layer 116 or other layers, for example, accounting for a total vertical thickness of between about 100 and 200 feet. The thickness of the storage layer 119 may allow for easier placement and directional drilling, allowing the angled portion 110 to be easily placed within the storage layer 119 during construction (e.g., drilling). If the inclined portion 110 is formed through the substantially horizontal center of the storage layer 119, the inclined portion 110 may be surrounded by about 50 to 100 feet of geological formation that includes the storage layer 119. In addition, the storage layer 119 may also have only immobile water, for example due to the very low permeability of the layer 119 (e.g., on the millidarcy or nano darcy scale). Additionally, the reservoir layer 119 may be sufficiently ductile that the brittleness of the formation comprising the layer 119 is between about 3MPa and 10 MPa. Examples of rock formations that reservoir 119 may include: shale and anhydrite. Further, in some aspects, hazardous materials may be stored below the storage layer even in permeable formations such as sandstone or limestone if the storage layer has sufficient geological properties to isolate the permeable layer from the flowing water layer 114.

In some exemplary embodiments of the hazardous materials storage reservoir system 100, the storage layer 119 (and/or impermeable layer 116) comprises shale. In some examples, the characteristics of the shale may be adapted to the above-described characteristics of the reservoir 119. For example, the shale layers may be suitable for long-term sequestration of hazardous materials (e.g., in the hazardous materials tank 126), as well as for isolating them from the dynamic water layer 114 (e.g., aquifer) and the surface 102. Shale layers can be found relatively deep on earth, typically 3000 feet or more, and are placed in isolation beneath any fresh water aquifers. Other layers may include salt or other impermeable formation layers.

For example, a shale layer (or salt or other impermeable formation layer) may include long-term (e.g., thousands of years) isolated geological properties of a reinforcing material. For example, such characteristics have been illustrated by long-term (e.g., millions of years) storage of hydrocarbon fluids (e.g., gases, liquids, mixed phase fluids) without substantial escape of such fluids into surrounding layers (e.g., the hydrodynamic layer 114). Indeed, it has been shown that for millions of years or more, shale possesses (retains) natural gas, which gives it a proven capacity to store hazardous materials for long periods of time. Exemplary shale layers (e.g., Marcellus shale, EagleFord shale, Barnett shale, and others) have a bedding that contains many redundant sealing layers that have effectively prevented water, oil, and gas movement for millions of years, lack moving water, and can be expected (e.g., based on geological considerations) to seal hazardous materials (e.g., fluids or solids) for thousands of years after storage.

In some aspects, storage layer 119 and/or a layer of impermeable layer 116 may form a leakage barrier or barrier layer to fluid leakage, which may be determined, at least in part, by an indication of the storage capacity of a layer of hydrocarbons or other fluids (e.g., carbon dioxide) for hundreds, thousands, tens, thousands, even millions of years. For example, based on such evidence of hydrocarbon or other fluid storage, a barrier layer of storage layer 119 and/or a barrier layer of impermeable layer 116 may be defined by a time constant for hazardous material leakage to exceed 10000 years (such as between approximately 10000 years and 1000000 years).

The shale (or salt or other impermeable layer) layer may also be at a suitable depth, for example between 3000 and 12000 feet TVD. Such depths are typically below groundwater aquifers (e.g., the surface 112 and/or the hydrodynamic layer 114). Furthermore, the presence of soluble elements (including salts) in the shale and the absence of these elements in the aquifer indicate fluid isolation between the shale and the aquifer.

Another characteristic of shale that is particularly advantageous for its own hazardous material storage is its clay content, which in some aspects provides a greater amount of ductility than is found in other impermeable formations (e.g., impermeable layer 116). For example, shale may be stratified, consisting of thin alternating layers of clay (e.g., between about 20-30% clay by volume) and other minerals. Such compositions may make shale less brittle (e.g., naturally or otherwise) and therefore less brittle than rock formations in impermeable layers (e.g., dolomite or otherwise). For example, the formation in impermeable layer 116 may have suitable permeability for long term storage of hazardous materials, but is too brittle and often breaks. Thus, such formations may not have sufficient sealing properties (as evidenced by their geological properties) for long term storage of hazardous materials.

The present disclosure contemplates that many other layers may be present between the illustrated subterranean layers 112, 114, 116, and 119. For example, there may be a repeating pattern of one or more of (e.g., in a vertical direction) the dynamic water layer 114, the impermeable layer 116, and the storage layer 119. Further, in some examples, the storage layer 119 may be directly adjacent (e.g., in a vertical direction) to the kinetic water layer 114, i.e., without an intervening impermeable layer 116. In some examples, all or portions of the radiused and angled boreholes 108 and 110 may be formed below the reservoir 119 such that the reservoir 119 (e.g., shale or other geological formation having features described herein) is located vertically between the angled borehole 110 and the water-moving layer 114.

Further, in the exemplary embodiment, self-healing layer 132 may be found below surface 102, for example, between surface 102 and one or both of impermeable layer 116 and storage layer 119. In some aspects, the self-healing layer 132 may include a geological layer that may stop or impede the flow of hazardous materials (whether in liquid, solid, or gaseous form) from the storage portion of the borehole 104 to or toward the surface 102. For example, during formation (e.g., drilling) of the borehole 104, the layers 112, 114, 116, and 119 of all or a portion of the geological formation may be damaged (as indicated by the damaged region 140), thereby affecting or altering its geological characteristics (e.g., permeability). Indeed, although the damaged region 140 is shown between layers 114 and 132 for simplicity, the damaged region 140 may enter layers 112, 114, 116, 119, 132 and other layers a distance around the entire length (vertical, curved and inclined portions) of borehole 104.

In some aspects, the location of borehole 104 may be selected to be formed through self-healing layer 132. For example, as shown, borehole 104 may be formed such that at least a portion of vertical portion 106 of borehole 104 is formed through self-healing layer 132. In some aspects, self-healing layer 132 comprises a geological formation that does not sustain cracks for long periods of time even after drilling through. Examples of geological formations in the self-healing layer 132 include clay or dolomite. Fractures in such rock formations are easily repaired, that is, they quickly disappear over time due to the tremendous pressure in the subsurface created by the relative ductility of the materials and the weight of the rock overlying the formation in the self-healing layer. In addition to providing a "repair mechanism" for fractures created as a result of forming the borehole 104 (e.g., drilling or otherwise), the self-healing layer 132 may also provide a barrier to natural fractures and other fractures that may otherwise provide a path for hazardous materials (e.g., fluids or solids) to leak from the storage area (e.g., in the inclined portion 110) to the surface 102, the flowing water layer 114, or both.

As shown in this example, the angled portion 110 of the borehole 104 includes a storage area 117 in a distal portion of the portion 110, into which storage area 117 hazardous material may be retrievably placed for long term storage. For example, as shown, a service line tube (string) 124 (e.g., pipe, coiled tubing, wireline, or otherwise) may extend into the cased borehole 104 to place one or more (three are shown, but possibly more or less) hazardous material tanks 126 into long-term, but in some aspects retrievable, storage in the portion 110. For example, in the embodiment shown in fig. 1A, the work string tubing 124 may include a downhole tool 128 coupled to a canister 126, and with each trip into the borehole 104, the downhole tool 128 may deposit a particular hazardous material canister 126 in the inclined portion 110.

In some aspects, the downhole tool 128 may be coupled to the canister 126 by a threaded connection or other type of connection (e.g., a latching connection). In alternative aspects, the downhole tool 128 may be coupled to the canister 126 by an interlocking latch such that rotation (or linear movement or an electrical or hydraulic switch) of the downhole tool 128 may be locked to the canister 126 (or unlocked from the canister 126). in alternative aspects, the downhole tool 124 may include one or more magnets (e.g., rare earth magnets, electromagnets, combinations thereof, or otherwise) that are attractively coupled to the canister 126. In some examples, the canister 126 may also include one or more magnets (e.g., rare earth magnets, electromagnets, combinations thereof, or otherwise) having an opposite polarity to the magnets on the downhole tool 124. In some examples, the canister 126 may be made of a ferrous material or other material that may attract the magnets of the downhole tool 124.

As another example, each canister 126 may be positioned within the borehole 104 by a borehole puller (e.g., on a cable or otherwise) that may push or pull the canister into the inclined portion 110 via a motorized (e.g., motorized) motion. As yet another example, each canister 126 may include or be mounted to a roller (e.g., a wheel) such that the downhole tool 124 may push the canister 126 into the cased borehole 104.

In some exemplary embodiments, one or more of the canister 126, the drill casings 120 and 122, or both, may be coated with a friction reducing coating prior to the storage operation. For example, by applying a coating (e.g., petroleum-based product, resin, ceramic, or otherwise) to the tank 126 and/or the bore casing, the tank 126 may be more easily moved through the cased bore 104 into the inclined portion 110. In some aspects, only a portion of the drill casing may be coated. For example, in some aspects, the generally vertical portion 106 may not be coated, but the rounded portion 108 or the angled portion 110 or both may be coated to facilitate easier storage and retrieval of the canister 126.

FIG. 1A also shows an example of a retrieval operation of hazardous material in the inclined portion 110 of the borehole 104. The retrieval operation may be reversed from the deposit operation such that a downhole tool 124 (e.g., fishing tool) may be advanced into the borehole 104, coupled to the last deposited canister 126 (e.g., threaded, by latch, by magnet, or otherwise), and pull the canister 126 to the surface 102. The downhole tool 124 may make multiple retrieval trips to retrieve multiple canisters from the inclined portion 110 of the borehole 104.

Each canister 126 may enclose hazardous materials. In some examples, such hazardous materials may be biological or chemical waste or other biological or chemical hazardous materials. In some examples, the hazardous material may include nuclear material, such as spent nuclear fuel or military nuclear material retrieved from a nuclear reactor (e.g., a commercial power reactor or a test reactor). For example, a gigawatt nuclear power plant may produce 30 tons of spent nuclear fuel per year. The density of the fuel is typically close to 10(10 mg/cm)310 kg/litre) so that the volume of nuclear waste for one year is about 3m3. Spent nuclear fuel in the form of nuclear fuel pellets can be removed from the reactor without modification. Nuclear fuel pellets are solids, but they can also contain and release various radioactive gases, including tritium (13 year half life), krypton 85(10.8 year half life), and carbon dioxide containing C-14 (5730 year half life).

In some aspects, the storage layer 119 should be able to contain any radioactive output (e.g., gas) within the layer 119 even if such output escapes from the canister 126. For example, the storage layer 119 may be selected based on the following conditions: the diffusion time of the radioactive output through layer 119. For example, the minimum diffusion time for the radioactive output of the escape storage layer 119 may be set to be, for example, fifty times the half-life of any particular component of the nuclear fuel pellet. Fifty half-lives as minimum diffusion times will reduce the radiation output by 1X 10-15And (4) doubling. As another example, setting the minimum diffusion time to thirty half-lives would reduce radioactive output by a billion-fold.

For example, plutonium 239 is often considered a hazardous waste product in spent nuclear fuel due to its long half-life of 24100 years. For this isotope, 50 half-lives would be 120 ten thousand years. Plutonium 239 has low solubility in water, is not volatile, and, as a solid, has an extremely short diffusion time (e.g., millions of years) through the matrix of rock formations including the illustrated storage layer 119 (e.g., shale or other formations). For example, a reservoir 119 comprising shale may provide the ability to have such isolated time (e.g., millions of years) as indicated by geological history containing gaseous hydrocarbons (e.g., methane and others) for millions of years. In contrast, in conventional nuclear material storage methods, there is a danger that once the pack escapes, some plutonium may dissolve in the bedding including the groundwater.

As further shown in fig. 1A, the storage tank 126 may be positioned in the inclined portion 110 for long-term storage, as shown, the inclined portion 110 is inclined upward at a small angle (e.g., 2-5 degrees) as the inclined portion 110 is further away from the vertical portion 106 of the borehole 104. As shown, the inclined portion 110 is inclined upwardly toward the ground surface 102. In some aspects, for example, when storing radioactive hazardous material in the tank 126, the inclination of the borehole portion 110 may provide further safety and containment to prevent or impede material (even if leaking from the tank 126) from reaching, for example, the dynamic water layer 114, the vertical portion 106 of the borehole 104, the earth surface 102, or a combination thereof. For example, radionuclides of interest in hazardous materials tend to be relatively light or heavy (compared to brines or other fluids that may fill a borehole). Lighter radionuclides may be the most concern for leakage because heavy elements and molecules tend to sink rather than diffuse upward toward the surface 102. Krypton gas, in particular14CO2(wherein,14c represents radioactive carbon, also known as C-14, an isotope of carbon with a half-life of 5730 years) is a relatively light radioactive element that is heavier than air (as most gases do) but lighter than water. Thus, once will14CO2Introduced into the water bath, this gas will tend to float upward toward the surface 102. Iodine, on the other hand, is more dense than water and will tend to diffuse downward if introduced into a water bath.

By including the angled portion 110 of the bore 104, any such diffusion of radioactive material (e.g., even if leaking from the tank 126 and in the presence of water or other liquid in the bore 104 or otherwise) will be obliquely oriented upward toward the distal end 121 of the angled portion 110 and away from the rounded portion 108 (and the vertical portion 106) of the bore 104. Thus, even a leaking hazardous material in the form of a diffusible gas does not get a path through the vertical portion 106 of the borehole 110 (e.g., directly) to the surface 102 (or the flowing water layer 114). For example, leaking hazardous material (especially in gaseous form) will be directed and collected at the distal end 121 of the bore portion 110.

Alternative methods of storing the canister 126 into the inclined bore portion 110 may also be implemented. For example, a fluid (e.g., a liquid or a gas) may be circulated through the borehole 104 to fluidly push the tank 126 into the inclined borehole portion 110. In some examples, each canister 126 may be fluidly pushed in separately. In an alternative aspect, two or more canisters 126 may be simultaneously fluidly pushed through the borehole 104 for storage into the inclined portion 110. In some cases, the fluid may be water. Other examples include drilling mud or drilling foam. In some examples, the canister 126 may be pushed into the borehole using a gas such as air, argon, or nitrogen.

In some aspects, the selection of the fluid may depend at least in part on the viscosity of the fluid. For example, a fluid having a sufficient viscosity may be selected to prevent the canister 126 from falling into the generally vertical portion 106. This resistance or impedance may provide a safety factor against the canister 126 being dropped suddenly. The fluid may also provide lubrication to reduce sliding friction between canister 126 and shells 120 and 122. The tank 126 may be transported within a housing filled with a liquid of controlled viscosity, density and lubricating quality. The fluid-filled annular space between the inner diameter of shells 120 and 122 and the outer diameter of the conveyed canister 126 represents a passageway designed to dampen any high rate of canister movement, thereby providing automatic passive protection in the unlikely event of disengagement of the conveyed canister 126.

In some aspects, other techniques may be employed to facilitate storage of the cans 126 into the sloped portion 110. For example, one or more of the mounted casings (e.g., casings 120 and 122) may have rails to guide storage tank 126 into borehole 102 while reducing friction between the casing and tank 126. The reservoir 126 and the shell (or rail) may be made of materials that slide easily against each other. The surface of the shell may be easily lubricated or may be a self-lubricating surface when subjected to the weight of the reservoir 126.

The fluid may also be used to retrieve the canister 126. For example, in an exemplary retrieval operation, the volumes within shells 120 and 122 may be filled with a compressed gas (e.g., air, nitrogen, argon, or other). As the pressure at the end of the inclined portion 110 increases, the tank 126 may be pushed toward the radiused portion 108 and then through the generally vertical portion 106 to the surface.

In some aspects, the borehole 104 may be formed for the primary purpose of long-term storage of hazardous materials. In an alternative aspect, the borehole 104 may have been previously formed for the primary purpose of hydrocarbon production (e.g., oil, gas). For example, storage layer 119 may be a hydrocarbon containing formation from which hydrocarbons are produced into borehole 104 and to surface 102. In some aspects, storage layer 119 may have been hydraulically fractured prior to hydrocarbon production. Further, in some aspects, production shell 122 has been perforated prior to hydraulic fracturing. In these aspects, prior to storage operations of the hazardous material, the production shell 122 may be repaired (e.g., bonded) to repair any holes created by the perforation process. In addition, any cracks or openings in the adhesive between the casing and the bore hole may also be filled at this time.

For example, in the case of spent nuclear fuel as a hazardous material, a borehole may be formed as a new borehole at a particular location (e.g., near a nuclear power plant) so long as the location also includes a suitable reservoir 119, such as a shale layer. Alternatively, an existing well that has produced shale gas or is abandoned as a "dry" well (e.g., having an organic content low enough that the gas content therein is too low for commercial exploitation) may be selected as the borehole 104. In some aspects, prior hydraulic fracturing of storage layer 119 through borehole 104 may have little effect on the hazardous material storage capacity of borehole 104. However, this prior activity may also confirm the ability of the storage layer 119 to store gases and other fluids for millions of years. Thus, if hazardous materials or an output of hazardous materials (e.g., radioactive gas or otherwise) were to escape from the tank 126 and enter the fractured layers of the storage layer 119, the fractured portions may allow the material to spread relatively quickly over a distance commensurate with the size of the fractured portions. In some aspects, the borehole 102 may have been drilled (drilled) to produce hydrocarbons, but such hydrocarbon production fails, for example, because the reservoir 119 comprises a formation (e.g., shale or otherwise) that is too ductile to fracture for production, but its ductility facilitates long-term storage of hazardous materials.

Fig. 1B is a schematic diagram of a portion of an exemplary embodiment of a hazardous materials repository system 100, showing an exemplary determination of a minimum angle for the inclined portion 110 of the hazardous materials repository system 100. For example, as shown in system 100, the inclined portion 110 is configured such that any path taken by a leaking hazardous material (e.g., from one or more tanks 126) through the borehole 104 to the surface 102 includes at least one downward component. In this case, the inclined portion 110 is a downward component. In other exemplary embodiments described below, such as systems 200 and 300, other portions (e.g., J-section portions or undulating portions) may include at least one downward component. As shown in this example, such a path dips below a horizontal escape limit line 175, which horizontal escape limit line 175 intersects the tank 126 closest (when located in the storage area 117) to the vertical portion 106 of the borehole 104, and therefore such a path must include a downward component.

In some aspects, the angle a of the inclined portion 110 of the borehole 104 (and thus the formation of the borehole 104) may be determined based on the radius R of the damaged region 140 of the borehole 104 and the distance D from the canister 126 closest to the vertical portion 106 of the borehole 104. As shown in the bubble drawn in fig. 1B, with knowledge of distances R and D (or at least an estimate), angle a may be calculated from the arctangent of R/D. In an exemplary embodiment, R may be about 1 meter and D may be about 20 meters. Thus, the angle a, which is the arctangent of R/D, is about 3. This is but one example of determining the angle a of the downward component of the borehole 104 (e.g., the inclined portion 110) to ensure that the downward component is immersed below the horizontal escape limit line 175.

Fig. 2 is a schematic illustration of another example embodiment of a hazardous materials storage system, such as a secure and secured storage underground location for long-term (e.g., tens, hundreds, or thousands of years or more) but retrievable storage of hazardous materials during storage or retrieval operations, according to the present disclosure. For example, turning to FIG. 2, an exemplary hazardous materials repository system 200 is shown during a storage (or retrieval, as described below) process, such as during deployment of one or more hazardous materials tanks in a formation. As shown, the hazardous materials repository system 200 includes a borehole 204 formed (e.g., drilled or otherwise formed) from the earth's surface 202 through a plurality of subterranean zones 212, and 216. Although the earth's surface 202 is shown as being a land surface, the earth's surface 202 may also be a sea floor or other underwater surface, such as a lake or ocean floor or other surface below a body of water. Thus, the present disclosure contemplates that borehole 204 may be formed from a drilling location above or near the body of water to below the body of water.

In this example of the hazardous materials repository system 200, the borehole 204 shown is a directional borehole. For example, the bore 204 includes a generally vertical portion 206, the generally vertical portion 206 being coupled to a J-section portion 208, the J-section portion 208 in turn being coupled to a generally horizontal portion 210. The J-section portion 208 is shown shaped like the bottom of the letter "J" and shaped like a p-type trap used in ductwork to prevent gas emissions from migrating from one side of the bend to the other side of the bend. As used in this disclosure, "substantially," in the context of reference to borehole orientation, refers to a borehole that may not be exactly vertical (e.g., exactly perpendicular to the earth's surface 202), or exactly horizontal (e.g., exactly parallel to the earth's surface 202), or exactly inclined at a particular inclination angle relative to the earth's surface 202. In other words, vertical boreholes often undulate away from true vertical, they may be drilled at angles away from true vertical, and horizontal boreholes often undulate away from exactly horizontal.

As shown in this example, three portions of the bore 204, a vertical portion 206, a J-section portion 208, and a substantially horizontal portion 210, form a continuous bore 204 extending into the ground. Further, as shown in phantom in fig. 2, the J-section portion 208 may be coupled to the angled portion 240 instead of (or in addition to) the generally horizontal portion 210 of the bore 204.

In this example, the borehole 204 is shown having a surface casing 220, the casing 220 being positioned and disposed to extend around the borehole 204 from the earth's surface 202 into the earth to a depth. For example, the surface shell 220 may be a relatively large diameter tubular member (or string of members) disposed (e.g., bonded) around the borehole 204 in a shallow layer. As used herein, "tubular" may refer to a member having a circular cross-section, an elliptical cross-section, or other shaped cross-section. For example, in this embodiment of hazardous materials repository system 200, surface shell 220 extends from the surface through surface 212. In this example, surface 212 is a geological formation that includes one or more stratified rock formations. In some aspects, in this example, surface layer 212 may or may not include a fresh water aquifer, a salt water or brine source, or other source of kinetic water (e.g., water that passes through a geological formation). In some aspects, the face shell 220 may isolate the borehole 204 from such live water, and may also provide a hanging location for installing other shell strings in the borehole 204. Further, although not shown, a guide casing may be provided above surface casing 220 (e.g., between surface casing 220 and surface 202 and within surface 212) to prevent drilling fluid from escaping into surface 212.

As shown, production casing 222 is positioned and disposed within borehole 204 downhole of face casing 220. Although referred to as "producing" the shell, in this example, shell 222 may or may not be subjected to hydrocarbon production operations. Accordingly, jacket 222 refers to and includes any form of tubular member disposed (e.g., bonded) in borehole 204 downhole of face jacket 220. In some examples of hazardous materials repository system 200, production shell 222 may begin at the end of J-section portion 208 and extend across substantially horizontal portion 210. Jacket 222 may also extend into J-section portion 208 and vertical portion 206.

As shown, adhesive 230 is positioned (e.g., pumped) around shells 220 and 222 in the annular space between shells 220 and 222 and bore 204. Adhesive 230 may, for example, secure casings 220 and 222 (and any other casings or liners of borehole 204) through the subterranean formation below surface 202. In some aspects, adhesive 230 may be provided along the entire length of the shells (e.g., shells 220 and 222 and any other shells), or adhesive 230 may be used along specific portions of the shells if sufficient for a particular bore 202. The adhesive 230 may also provide an additional containment layer for the hazardous material in the canister 226.

The bore 204 and associated casings 220 and 222 may be formed in various exemplary sizes and at various exemplary depths (e.g., true vertical depth or TVD). For example, the conductor jacket (not shown) may extend down to a TVD of about 120 feet, with a diameter of between about 28 inches and 60 inches. The face shell 220 may extend down to a TVD of about 2500 feet, with a diameter of between about 22 inches and 48 inches. An intermediate shell (not shown) between surface shell 220 and production shell 222 may extend down to a TVD of about 8000 feet with a diameter of between about 16 inches and 36 inches. Production shell 222 may extend obliquely (e.g., to surround substantially horizontal portion 210 and/or oblique portion 240) at a diameter of between about 11 inches and 22 inches. The foregoing dimensions are provided as examples only, and other dimensions (e.g., diameter, TVD, length) are contemplated by the present disclosure. For example, the diameter and TVD may depend on the particular geological composition of one or more of the plurality of subterranean zones (212, 214, and 216), the particular drilling technique, and the size, shape, or design of the hazardous materials tank 226 containing the hazardous materials to be deposited in the hazardous materials repository system 200. In some alternative examples, production casing 222 (or other casing in bore 204) may be circular in cross-section, elliptical in cross-section, or some other shape.

As shown, the vertical portion 206 of the borehole 204 extends through the subterranean zones 212, 214, and 216, and in this example, is landed (reached) in the subterranean zone 219. As described above, the surface layer 212 may or may not include running water. In this example, the subterranean zone 214 below the surface 212 is a hydrodynamic zone 214. For example, the dynamic water layer 214 may include one or more dynamic water sources, such as fresh water aquifers, salt water or brine, or other dynamic water sources. In this example of the hazardous materials repository system 200, the running water may be water that moves through the subterranean zone based on a pressure differential across all or a portion of the subterranean zone. For example, the dynamic water layer 214 may be a permeable geological layer in which water is free to move within the layer 214 (e.g., due to pressure differences or other reasons). In some aspects, the hydrodynamic layer 214 may be the primary source of human available water in a particular geographic area. Examples of rock formations that may comprise the dynamic water layer 214 include porous sandstone and limestone, among others.

Other illustrated layers, such as the impermeable layer 216 and the storage layer 219, may include immobile water. In some aspects, the immobile water is water that is not suitable for use by humans or animals or both (e.g., fresh water, salt water, brine). In some aspects, the immobile water may be water that cannot reach the mobile water layer 214, the earth's surface 202, or both in 10000 years or more (such as up to 1000000 years) by its movement through the layers 216 or 219 (or both).

In this exemplary embodiment of the hazardous materials repository system 200, below the hydrodynamic layer 214 is an impermeable layer 216. In this example, the impermeable layer 216 may not allow running water to pass through. Thus, the impermeable layer 216 may have a low permeability, such as a permeability on the order of 0.01 millidarcy, relative to the dynamic water layer 214. Additionally, in this example, impermeable layer 216 may be a geological layer that is relatively non-malleable (i.e., brittle). One measure of non-ductility is brittleness, which is the ratio of compressive stress to tensile strength. In some examples, the brittleness of impermeable layer 216 may be between about 20MPa and 40 MPa.

As shown in this example, the impermeable layer 216 is shallower (e.g., closer to the surface 202) than the storage layer 219. In this example, impermeable layer 216 may include rock formations including, for example, certain types of sandstone, mudstone, clay, and slate having permeability and brittleness as described above. In alternative examples, the impermeable layer 216 may be deeper (e.g., farther from the surface 202) than the storage layer 219. In these alternative examples, impermeable layer 216 may comprise igneous rock, such as granite.

Below the impermeable layer 216 is a storage layer 219. In this example, the storage layer 219 may be selected as a landing for the substantially horizontal portion 210 that stores the hazardous material for a variety of reasons. The storage layer 219 may be thick relative to the impermeable layer 216 or other layers, for example, having a total vertical thickness of between about 100 and 200 feet. The thickness of the storage layer 219 may allow for easier placement and directional drilling, allowing the substantially horizontal portion 210 to be easily placed within the storage layer 219 during construction (e.g., drilling). If the substantially horizontal portion 210 is formed through a substantially horizontal center of the storage layer 219, the substantially horizontal portion 210 may be surrounded by about 50 to 100 feet of geological formation that includes the storage layer 219. In addition, the storage layer 219 may also have only immobile water, for example due to the very low permeability of the layer 219 (e.g., on the order of millidarcy or nadropy). Additionally, the storage layer 219 may be sufficiently ductile such that the brittleness of the formation comprising the layer 219 is between about 3MPa and 10 MPa. Examples of rock formations that reservoir 219 may include: shale and anhydrite. Further, in some aspects, hazardous materials may be stored below the storage layer even in permeable formations such as sandstone or limestone if the storage layer has sufficient geological properties to isolate the permeable layer from the flowing water layer 214.

In some exemplary embodiments of the hazardous materials repository system 200, the storage layer 219 (and/or the impermeable layer 216) comprises shale. In some examples, the characteristics of the shale may be adapted to the above-described characteristics of the reservoir 219. For example, the shale layers may be suitable for long-term containment of hazardous materials (e.g., in the hazardous materials tank 226), as well as for isolating them from the dynamic water layer 214 (e.g., aquifer) and the surface 202. Shale layers can be found relatively deep on earth, typically 3000 feet or more, and are placed in isolation beneath any fresh water aquifers. Other layers may include salt or other impermeable formation layers.

For example, a shale layer (or salt or other impermeable formation layer) may include long-term (e.g., thousands of years) isolated geological properties of a reinforcing material. For example, such characteristics have been illustrated by long-term (e.g., millions of years) storage of hydrocarbon fluids (e.g., gases, liquids, mixed-phase fluids) without such fluids escaping into surrounding layers (e.g., the kinetic water layer 214). Indeed, it has been shown that shale retains natural gas for millions of years or more, which gives it a proven capacity to store hazardous materials for long periods of time. Exemplary shale layers (e.g., Marcellus shale), Eagle Ford shale, Barnett shale, and others) have a bedding that contains many redundant sealing layers that have effectively prevented water, oil, and gas movement for millions of years, lack moving water, and can be expected (e.g., based on geological considerations) to seal hazardous materials (e.g., fluids or solids) for thousands of years after storage.

In some aspects, the storage layer 219 and/or the layers of the impermeable layer 216 may form a leakage barrier or barrier layer to fluid leakage, which may be determined at least in part by an indication of the storage capacity of the layers of hydrocarbons or other fluids (e.g., carbon dioxide) for hundreds, thousands, tens, thousands, even millions of years. For example, based on such evidence of hydrocarbon or other fluid storage, the barrier layer of the storage layer 219 and/or the impermeable layer 216 may be defined by a time constant for hazardous material leakage exceeding 10000 years (such as between 10000 years and 1000000 years).

The shale (or salt or other impermeable layer) layer may also be at a suitable depth, for example between 3000 and 12000 feet TVD. Such depths are typically below groundwater aquifers (e.g., the surface layer 212 and/or the hydrodynamic layer 214). Furthermore, the presence of soluble elements (including salts) in the shale and the absence of these elements in the aquifer indicate fluid isolation between the shale and the aquifer.

Another characteristic of shale that is particularly advantageous for its own hazardous material storage is its clay content, which in some aspects provides a greater amount of ductility than is found in other impermeable formations (e.g., impermeable layer 216). For example, shale may be stratified, consisting of thin alternating layers of clay (e.g., between about 20-30% clay by volume) and other minerals. Such compositions may make shale less brittle (e.g., naturally or otherwise) and therefore less brittle than rock formations in impermeable layers (e.g., dolomite or otherwise). For example, the formation in the impermeable layer 216 may have suitable permeability for long term storage of hazardous materials, but is too brittle and often breaks. Thus, such formations may not have sufficient sealing properties (as evidenced by their geological properties) for long term storage of hazardous materials.

The present disclosure contemplates that many other layers may be present between or among the illustrated subsurface layers 212, 214, 216, and 219. For example, there may be a repeating pattern of one or more of the dynamic water layer 214, the impermeable layer 216, and the storage layer 219 (e.g., in a vertical direction). Further, in some examples, the storage layer 219 may be directly adjacent (e.g., in a vertical direction) to the kinetic water layer 214, i.e., without the intervening impermeable layer 216. In some examples, all or a portion of the J-section bore 208 and the substantially horizontal portion 210 (and/or the inclined portion 240) may be formed below the reservoir 219 such that the reservoir 219 (e.g., shale or other geological formation having the features described herein) is located vertically between the substantially horizontal portion (and/or the inclined portion 240) and the hydrodynamic layer 214.

Although not shown in this particular example shown in fig. 2, a self-healing layer (such as self-healing layer 132) may be found below surface 202, for example, between surface 202 and one or both of impermeable layer 216 and storage layer 219. In some aspects, the self-healing layer may include a geological layer that may stop or impede the flow of hazardous materials (whether in liquid, solid, or gaseous form) from the storage portion of the borehole 204 to or toward the surface 202. For example, during formation (e.g., drilling) of the borehole 204, the layers 212, 214, 216, and 219 of all or a portion of the geological formation may be damaged, thereby affecting or altering its geological characteristics (e.g., permeability).

In some aspects, the location of the borehole 204 may be selected so as to form through the self-healing layer. For example, as shown, the bore 204 may be formed such that at least a portion of the vertical portion 206 of the bore 204 is formed through the self-healing layer. In some aspects, the self-healing layer comprises a geological formation that does not sustain cracks for long periods of time even after drilling. Examples of geological layers in the self-healing layer include clay or dolomite. Fractures in such rock formations are easily repaired, that is, they quickly disappear over time due to the large pressure in the subsurface created by the relative ductility of the materials and the weight of the rock overlying the formation in the self-healing layer. In addition to providing a "repair mechanism" for fractures created as a result of forming the borehole 204 (e.g., drilling or otherwise), the self-healing layer may also provide a barrier to natural fractures and other fractures that may otherwise provide a path for hazardous materials (e.g., fluids or solids) to leak from the storage area (e.g., in the substantially horizontal portion 210) to the surface 202, the flowing water layer 214, or both.

As shown in this example, the generally horizontal portion 210 of the bore 204 includes a storage area 217 in a distal portion of the portion 210 into which hazardous material may be retrievably placed for long term storage. For example, as shown, a service line pipe (string) 224 (e.g., pipe, coiled tubing, cable, or otherwise) may extend into the cased borehole 204 to place one or more (three are shown, but possibly more or less) hazardous material tanks 226 into long-term, but in some aspects retrievable, storage in the section 210. For example, in the embodiment shown in fig. 2, the work string tube 224 may include a downhole tool 228 coupled to a canister 226, and with each trip into the borehole 204, the downhole tool 228 may deposit a particular hazardous material canister 226 in the generally horizontal portion 210.

In some aspects, the downhole tool 228 may be coupled to the canister 226 by a threaded connection or other type of connection (e.g., a latching connection). In alternative aspects, the downhole tool 228 may be coupled to the canister 226 by an interlocking latch such that rotation (or linear movement or an electrical or hydraulic switch) of the downhole tool 228 may be locked to the canister 226 (or unlocked from the canister 226). in alternative aspects, the downhole tool 224 may include one or more magnets (e.g., rare earth magnets, electromagnets, combinations thereof, or otherwise) that are attractively coupled to the canister 226. In some examples, the canister 226 may also include one or more magnets (e.g., rare earth magnets, electromagnets, combinations thereof, or others) having an opposite polarity to the magnets on the downhole tool 224. In some examples, the canister 226 may be made of a ferrous material or other material that may attract the magnets of the downhole tool 224.

As another example, each canister 226 may be positioned within the bore 204 by a bore tractor (e.g., on a cable or otherwise) that may push or pull the canister into the generally horizontal portion 210 via a motorized (e.g., motorized) motion. As yet another example, each canister 226 may include or be mounted to a roller (e.g., a wheel) such that the downhole tool 224 may push the canister 226 into the cased borehole 204.

In some exemplary embodiments, one or more or both of the canister 226, the drill casings 220 and 222 may be coated with a friction reducing coating prior to the storage operation. For example, by applying a coating (e.g., petroleum-based product, resin, ceramic, or otherwise) to the tank 226 and/or the bore shell, the tank 226 may be more easily moved through the sleeved bore 204 into the substantially horizontal portion 210. In some aspects, only a portion of the drill casing may be coated. For example, in some aspects, the generally vertical portion 206 may not be coated, but the J-section portion 208 or the generally horizontal portion 210 or both may be coated to facilitate easier storage and retrieval of the canister 226.

Fig. 2 also illustrates an example of a retrieval operation of hazardous material in a generally horizontal portion 210 of the borehole 204. The retrieval operation may be reversed from the deposit operation such that a downhole tool 224 (e.g., fishing tool) may be run into the borehole 204, coupled to the last deposited canister 226 (e.g., threaded, by latch, by magnet, or otherwise), and pull the canister 226 to the surface 202. The downhole tool 224 may make multiple retrieval trips to retrieve multiple canisters from the substantially horizontal portion 210 of the borehole 204.

Each canister 226 may enclose hazardous materials. In some examples, such hazardous materials may be biological or chemical waste or other biological or chemical hazardous materials. In some examples, the hazardous material may include nuclear material, such as from a nuclear reactor (e.g., a commercial power reactor or a test reactor)A pile) of reclaimed spent nuclear fuel or military nuclear material. For example, a gigawatt nuclear power plant may produce 30 tons of spent nuclear fuel per year. The density of the fuel is typically close to 10(10 mg/cm)310 kg/litre) so that the volume of nuclear waste for one year is about 3m3. Spent nuclear fuel in the form of nuclear fuel pellets can be removed from the reactor without modification. Nuclear fuel pellets are solids, but they can also contain and release various radioactive gases, including tritium (13 year half life), krypton 85(10.8 year half life), and carbon dioxide containing C-14 (5730 year half life).

In some aspects, the storage layer 219 should be able to contain any radioactive output (e.g., gas) within the layer 219 even if such output escapes from the canister 226. For example, the storage layer 219 may be selected based on the following conditions: the diffusion time of the radioactive output through the layer 219. For example, the minimum diffusion time for the radioactive output of the escape reservoir 219 may be set to, for example, fifty times the half-life of any particular component of the nuclear fuel pellet. Fifty half-lives as the minimum diffusion time will reduce the amount of radioactivity output by 1 × 10-15And (4) doubling. As another example, setting the minimum diffusion time to thirty half-lives would reduce the amount of radioactivity output by a billion-fold.

For example, plutonium 239 is often considered a hazardous waste product in spent nuclear fuel due to its long half-life of 24100 years. For this isotope, 50 half-lives would be 120 ten thousand years. Plutonium 239 is low in solubility in water, is non-volatile, and, as a solid, cannot diffuse through the matrix of rock formations comprising the illustrated storage layer 219 (e.g., shale or other formations). For example, a reservoir 219 comprising shale may provide the ability to have such isolated time (e.g., millions of years) as indicated by geological history containing gaseous hydrocarbons (e.g., methane and others) for millions of years. In contrast, in conventional nuclear material storage methods, there is a danger that once the pack escapes, some plutonium may dissolve in the bedding including the groundwater.

As further shown in fig. 2, the storage tank 226 may be positioned for long-term storage in a generally horizontal portion 210, which generally horizontal portion 210 is coupled with the vertical straight portion 106 of the bore 104 through the J-section portion 208, as shown. As shown, the J-section portion 208 includes an upwardly directed portion that slopes toward the earth's surface 202. In some aspects, for example, when storing hazardous radioactive material in the tank 226, this inclination of the J-section portion 208 (and the inclination of the inclined portion 240 (if formed)) may provide further safety and containment to prevent or impede material (even if leaking from the tank 226) from reaching, for example, the dynamic water layer 214, the vertical portion 206 of the borehole 204, the earth surface 202, or a combination thereof. For example, radionuclides of interest in hazardous materials tend to be relatively lighter or heavier (compared to other material constituents). Lighter radionuclides may be the most concern for leakage because heavy elements and molecules tend to sink rather than diffuse upward toward the surface 202. Krypton, and in particular krypton 85, is a relatively light radioactive element that is heavier than air (as most gases do) but much lighter than water. Thus, once the krypton 85 is introduced into the water bath, this gas will tend to float upward toward the surface 202. Iodine, on the other hand, is more dense than water and will tend to diffuse downward if introduced into a water bath.

With the J-section portion 208 including the bore 204, any such diffusion of radioactive material (e.g., even if leaking from the tank 226 and in the presence of water or other liquid in the bore 204 or otherwise) will be obliquely oriented upward toward the generally horizontal portion 210, more particularly toward the distal end 221 of the generally horizontal portion 210 and away from the J-section portion 208 (and the vertical portion 206) of the bore 204. Thus, even a leaking hazardous material in the form of diffusible gas does not get a path through the vertical portion 206 of the borehole 210 (e.g., directly) to the surface 202 (or the layer of mobile water 214). For example, the leaked hazardous material (especially in gaseous form) will be directed and collected at the distal end 221 of the borehole portion 210, or generally within the substantially horizontal portion 210 of the borehole 204.

Alternative methods of storing the canister 226 in the inclined bore portion 210 may also be implemented. For example, a fluid (e.g., a liquid or a gas) may be circulated through the borehole 204 to fluidly push the tank 226 into the inclined borehole portion 210. In some examples, each canister 226 may be fluidly pushed in separately. In an alternative aspect, two or more canisters 226 may be fluidly pushed through the bore 204 at the same time to be stored into the substantially horizontal portion 210. In some cases, the fluid may be water. Other examples include drilling mud or drilling foam. In some examples, the canister 226 may be pushed into the borehole using a gas such as air, argon, or nitrogen.

In some aspects, the selection of the fluid may depend at least in part on the viscosity of the fluid. For example, a fluid having a sufficient viscosity may be selected to prevent the canister 226 from falling into the generally vertical portion 206. This resistance or impedance may provide a safety factor against the canister 226 being dropped suddenly. The fluid may also provide lubrication to reduce sliding friction between the canister 226 and the shells 220 and 222. The tank 226 may be conveyed within a housing filled with a liquid of controlled viscosity, density and lubricating quality. The fluid-filled annular space between the inner diameter of shells 220 and 222 and the outer diameter of the conveyed canister 226 represents a passageway designed to dampen any high rate of canister movement, thereby providing automatic passive protection in the unlikely event of disengagement of the conveyed canister 226.

In some aspects, other techniques may be employed to facilitate storage of the canister 226 into the generally horizontal portion 210. For example, one or more of the installed casings (e.g., casings 220 and 222) may have rails to guide storage tank 226 into borehole 202 while reducing friction between the casing and tank 226. The reservoir 226 and the housing (or rails) may be made of materials that easily slide against each other. The surface of the shell may be easily lubricated or may be a self-lubricating surface when subjected to the weight of the reservoir 226.

The fluid may also be used to retrieve the canister 226. For example, in an exemplary retrieval operation, the volume within shells 220 and 222 may be filled with a compressed gas (e.g., air, nitrogen, argon, or other). As the pressure at the end of the generally horizontal portion 210 increases, the tank 226 may be pushed toward the J-section portion 208 and then through the generally vertical portion 206 to the surface.

In some aspects, the bore 204 may be formed for the primary purpose of long-term storage of hazardous materials. In an alternative aspect, the borehole 204 may have been previously formed for the primary purpose of hydrocarbon production (e.g., oil, gas). For example, storage layer 219 may be a hydrocarbon containing formation from which hydrocarbons are produced into borehole 204 and to surface 202. In some aspects, the storage layer 219 may have been hydraulically fractured prior to hydrocarbon production. Further, in some aspects, production shell 222 has been perforated prior to hydraulic fracturing. In these aspects, prior to storage operations of the hazardous material, the production shell 222 may be repaired (e.g., bonded) to repair any holes formed by the piercing process. In addition, any cracks or openings in the adhesive between the casing and the bore hole may also be filled at this time.

For example, in the case of spent nuclear fuel as a hazardous material, a borehole may be formed as a new borehole at a particular location (e.g., near a nuclear power plant) so long as the location also includes a suitable reservoir 219, such as a shale layer. Alternatively, an existing well that has produced shale gas or is abandoned as a "dry" well (e.g., having an organic content low enough that the gas content therein is too low for commercial exploitation) may be selected as the borehole 204. In some aspects, the previous hydraulic fracturing of the storage layer 219 through the borehole 204 may have little effect on the hazardous material storage capacity of the borehole 204. However, this prior activity may also confirm the ability of the reservoir 219 to store gases and other fluids for millions of years. Thus, if hazardous materials or an output of hazardous materials (e.g., radioactive gas or otherwise) were to escape from the tank 226 and enter the fractures of the storage layer 219, these fractures may allow the material to spread relatively quickly over a distance commensurate with the size of the fracture. In some aspects, the borehole 202 may have been drilled to produce hydrocarbons, but such hydrocarbon production fails, for example, because the reservoir 219 comprises a formation (e.g., shale or otherwise) that is too ductile to fracture for production, but its ductility facilitates long-term storage of hazardous materials.

Fig. 3 is a schematic view of another exemplary embodiment of a hazardous materials storage repository system according to the present disclosure during a storage or retrieval operation, such as a secure and secured storage underground location for long-term (e.g., tens, hundreds, or thousands of years or more) but retrievable hazardous materials. For example, turning to fig. 3, an exemplary hazardous materials repository system 300 is shown during a storage (or retrieval, described below) process, such as during deployment of one or more hazardous materials tanks in a formation. As shown, the hazardous materials repository system 300 includes a borehole 304 formed (e.g., drilled or otherwise formed) from the earth's surface 302 through a plurality of subterranean zones 312, 314, and 316. Although the earth's surface 302 is shown as being on a land surface, the earth's surface 302 may also be a sea floor or other underwater surface, such as a lake or ocean floor or other surface below a body of water. Thus, the present disclosure contemplates that the borehole 304 may be formed from a drilling location above or near the body of water to below the body of water.

In this example of the hazardous materials repository system 300, the borehole 304 shown is a directional borehole. For example, the bore 304 includes a generally vertical portion 306, the generally vertical portion 306 coupled with a curved portion 308, the curved portion 308 in turn coupled to a vertically undulating portion 310. As used in this disclosure, "substantially," in the context of reference to borehole orientation, refers to a borehole that may not be exactly vertical (e.g., exactly perpendicular to the earth's surface 302), or exactly horizontal (e.g., exactly parallel to the earth's surface 302), or exactly inclined at a particular inclination angle relative to the earth's surface 302. In other words, vertical boreholes often undulate away from true vertical, they may be drilled at angles away from true vertical, and horizontal boreholes often undulate away from exactly horizontal. Further, in some aspects, the undulating portion may undulate irregularly, i.e., without evenly spaced peaks or evenly spaced valleys. In contrast, a wavy borehole may undulate irregularly, e.g., having unevenly spaced peaks and/or unevenly spaced valleys. Further, the undulating bore may have a peak to valley distance that varies along the length of the bore. As shown in this example, three portions of the borehole 304-the vertical portion 306, the curved portion 308, and the vertical undulation portion 310 form a continuous borehole 304 extending into the ground.

In this example, the borehole 304 is shown having a surface casing 320, the surface casing 320 being positioned and disposed to a depth into the earth from the earth's surface 302 around the borehole 304. For example, the surface casing 320 may be a relatively large diameter tubular member (or a string of members) disposed (e.g., bonded) around the borehole 304 in a shallow layer. As used herein, "tubular" may refer to a member having a circular cross-section, an elliptical cross-section, or other shaped cross-section. For example, in this embodiment of hazardous materials storage system 300, surface shell 320 extends from the surface through surface 312. In this example, surface 312 is a geological formation that includes one or more stratified formations. In some aspects, in this example, surface layer 312 may or may not include a fresh water aquifer, a salt water or brine source, or other source of kinetic water (e.g., water that passes through a geological formation). In some aspects, the face shell 320 may isolate the borehole 304 from such live water, and may also provide a hanging location for installing other shell strings in the borehole 304. Further, although not shown, a guide casing may be provided above surface casing 320 (e.g., between surface casing 320 and surface 302 and within surface 312) to prevent drilling fluid from escaping into surface 312.

As shown, production casing 322 is positioned and disposed within borehole 304 downhole of face casing 320. Although referred to as a "production" jacket, in this example jacket 322 may or may not be subjected to hydrocarbon production operations. Accordingly, jacket 322 refers to and includes any form of tubular member disposed (e.g., bonded) in borehole 304 downhole of surface jacket 320. In some examples of hazardous materials storage reservoir system 300, production shell 322 may begin at the end of curved portion 308 and extend across the entire vertical undulation portion 310. Jacket 322 may also extend into curved portion 308 and vertical portion 306.

As shown, adhesive 330 is positioned (e.g., pumped) around shells 320 and 322 in the annular space between shells 320 and 322 and bore 304. Adhesive 330 may, for example, secure casings 320 and 322 (and any other casings or liners of borehole 304) through the subterranean formation below surface 302. In some aspects, adhesive 330 may be provided along the entire length of the shells (e.g., shells 320 and 322 and any other shells), or adhesive 330 may be used along specific portions of the shells if sufficient for a particular bore 302. The adhesive 330 may also provide an additional containment layer for the hazardous material in the canister 326.

The bore 304 and associated casings 320 and 322 may be formed in various exemplary sizes and at various exemplary depths (e.g., true vertical depth or TVD). For example, a guide shell (not shown) may extend down to a TVD of about 120 feet, with a diameter of between about 28 inches and 60 inches. The face shell 320 may extend down to a TVD of about 2500 feet, with a diameter of between about 22 inches and 48 inches. An intermediate shell (not shown) between surface shell 320 and production shell 322 may extend down to a TVD of about 8000 feet with a diameter of between about 16 inches and 36 inches. Production shell 322 may extend obliquely (e.g., to surround vertical undulations 310) at a diameter of between about 11 inches and 22 inches. The foregoing dimensions are provided as examples only, and other dimensions (e.g., diameter, TVD, length) are contemplated by the present disclosure. For example, the diameter and TVD may depend on the particular geological composition of one or more of the plurality of subterranean zones (312, 314, and 316), the particular drilling technique, and the size, shape, or design of the hazardous materials tank 326 containing the hazardous materials to be deposited in the hazardous materials repository system 300. In some alternative examples, production jacket 322 (or other jackets in bore 304) may be circular in cross-section, elliptical in cross-section, or some other shape.

As shown, the vertical portion 306 of the borehole 304 extends through the subterranean zones 312, 314, and 316, and, in this example, is landed (reached) in the subterranean zone 319. As described above, skin 312 may or may not include running water. In this example, the subterranean formation 314 below the surface 312 is a hydrodynamic formation 314. For example, the kinetic water layer 314 may include one or more kinetic water sources, such as fresh water aquifers, salt water or brine, or other kinetic water sources. In this example of the hazardous materials repository system 300, the mobilized water may be water that moves through the subterranean formation based on a pressure differential across all or a portion of the subterranean formation. For example, the dynamic water layer 314 may be a permeable geological layer in which water is free to move within the layer 314 (e.g., due to pressure differentials or other reasons). In some aspects, the hydrodynamic layer 314 may be a primary source of human available water in a particular geographic area. Examples of rock formations that may comprise the dynamic water layer 314 include porous sandstone and limestone, among others.

Other illustrated layers, such as impermeable layer 316 and storage layer 319, may include immobile water. In some aspects, the immobile water is water that is not suitable for use by humans or animals or both (e.g., fresh water, salt water, brine). In some aspects, the immobile water may be water that cannot reach the mobile water layer 314, the surface 302, or both in 10000 years or more (such as up to 1000000 years) by its movement through the layers 316 or 319 (or both).

In this exemplary embodiment of the hazardous materials repository system 300, below the running water layer 314 is an impermeable layer 316. In this example, the impermeable layer 316 may not allow running water to pass through. Thus, the impermeable layer 316 may have a low permeability, such as a nano-darcy grade of permeability, relative to the dynamic water layer 314. Additionally, in this example, impermeable layer 316 may be a geological layer that is relatively non-malleable (i.e., brittle). One measure of non-ductility is brittleness, which is the ratio of compressive stress to tensile strength. In some examples, the brittleness of the impermeable layer 316 may be between about 20MPa and 40 MPa.

As shown in this example, the impermeable layer 316 is shallower (e.g., closer to the surface 302) than the storage layer 319. In this example, the impermeable layer 316 may include rock formations including, for example, certain types of sandstone, mudstone, clay, and slate having permeability and brittleness as described above. In an alternative example, the impermeable layer 316 may be deeper (e.g., farther from the surface 302) than the storage layer 319. In these alternative examples, impermeable layer 316 may comprise igneous rock, such as granite.

Below the impermeable layer 316 is a storage layer 319. In this example, the storage level 319 may be selected as a landing for the vertical relief portion 310 that stores hazardous material for a variety of reasons. Storage layer 319 may be thick relative to impermeable layer 316 or other layers, for example, having a total vertical thickness of between about 100 and 200 feet. The thickness of the storage layer 319 may allow for easier landing and directional drilling, allowing the vertical undulating portion 310 to be easily placed within the storage layer 319 during construction (e.g., drilling). If the vertical undulating portion 310 is formed through substantially the horizontal center of the storage layer 319, the vertical undulating portion 310 may be surrounded by about 50 to 100 feet of geological formation including the storage layer 319. In addition, the storage layer 319 may also have only immobile water, for example, due to the very low permeability of the layer 319 (e.g., on the millidarcy or nano-darcy scale). Additionally, the storage layer 319 may be sufficiently ductile such that the brittleness of the formation comprising the layer 319 is between about 3MPa and 10 MPa. Examples of rock formations that storage layer 319 may include: shale and anhydrite. Further, in some aspects, hazardous materials may be stored below the storage layer even in permeable formations such as sandstone or limestone if the storage layer has sufficient geological properties to isolate the permeable layer from the flowing water layer 314.

In some exemplary embodiments of the hazardous materials repository system 300, the storage layer 319 (and/or the impermeable layer 316) includes shale. In some examples, the characteristics of the shale may be adapted to the above-described characteristics of the reservoir 319. For example, the shale layers may be suitable for long-term sequestration of hazardous materials (e.g., in hazardous materials tank 326), as well as for isolating them from the dynamic water layer 314 (e.g., aquifer) and the surface 302. Shale layers can be found relatively deep on earth, typically 3000 feet or more, and are placed in isolation beneath any fresh water aquifers. Other layers may include salt or other impermeable formation layers.

For example, a shale layer (or salt or other impermeable formation layer) may include long-term (e.g., thousands of years) isolated geological properties of a reinforcing material. For example, this property has been illustrated by long-term (e.g., millions of years) storage of hydrocarbon fluids (e.g., gases, liquids, mixed phase fluids) without the escape of the fluid into surrounding layers (e.g., the kinetic water layer 314). Indeed, it has been shown that shale retains natural gas for millions of years or more, which gives it a proven capacity to store hazardous materials for long periods of time. Exemplary shale layers (e.g., Marcellus shale), Eagle Ford shale, Barnett shale, and others) have a bedding that contains many redundant sealing layers that have effectively prevented water, oil, and gas movement for millions of years, lack moving water, and can be expected (e.g., based on geological considerations) to seal hazardous materials (e.g., fluids or solids) for thousands of years after storage.

In some aspects, storage layer 319 and/or impermeable layer 316 may form a barrier to leakage or a barrier to fluid leakage, which may be determined, at least in part, by indications of the storage capacity of a layer of hydrocarbons or other fluids (e.g., carbon dioxide) lasting hundreds of years, thousands of years, tens of thousands of years, even millions of years. For example, based on such evidence of hydrocarbon or other fluid storage, the barrier layer of the storage layer 319 and/or the impermeable layer 316 may be defined by a time constant of more than 10000 years (such as between 10000 years and 1000000 years) for leakage of hazardous material.

The shale (or salt or other impermeable layer) layer may also be at a suitable depth, for example between 3000 and 12000 feet TVD. Such depths are typically below groundwater aquifers (e.g., the surface 312 and/or the hydrodynamic layer 314). Furthermore, the presence of soluble elements (including salts) in the shale and the absence of these elements in the aquifer indicate fluid isolation between the shale and the aquifer.

Another characteristic of shale that is particularly advantageous for its own hazardous material storage is its clay content, which in some aspects provides a greater amount of ductility than is found in other impermeable formations (e.g., impermeable layer 316). For example, shale may be stratified, consisting of thin alternating layers of clay (e.g., between about 20-30% clay by volume) and other minerals. Such compositions may make shale less brittle (e.g., naturally or otherwise) and therefore less brittle than rock formations in impermeable layers (e.g., dolomite or otherwise). For example, the formation in the impermeable layer 316 may have suitable permeability for long term storage of hazardous materials, but is too brittle and often breaks. Thus, such formations may not have sufficient sealing properties (as evidenced by their geological properties) for long term storage of hazardous materials.

The present disclosure contemplates that many other layers may be present between or among the illustrated subterranean layers 312, 314, 316, and 319. For example, there may be a repeating pattern of one or more of the dynamic water layer 314, the impermeable layer 316, and the storage layer 319 (e.g., in a vertical direction). Further, in some examples, the storage layer 319 may be directly adjacent (e.g., in a vertical direction) to the kinetic water layer 314, i.e., without the intervening impermeable layer 316. In some examples, all or part of the curved portion 308 and the vertically undulating portion 310 may be formed below the reservoir 319 such that the reservoir 319 (e.g., shale or other geological formation having the features described herein) is vertically between the vertically undulating portion 310 and the hydrodynamic layer 314.

Although not shown in this particular example shown in fig. 3, a self-healing layer (such as self-healing layer 132) may be found below surface 302, for example, between surface 302 and one or both of impermeable layer 316 and storage layer 319. In some aspects, the self-healing layer may include a geological layer that may stop or impede the flow of hazardous materials (whether in liquid, solid, or gaseous form) from the storage portion of the borehole 304 toward or toward the earth surface 302. For example, during formation (e.g., drilling) of the borehole 304, the layers 312, 314, 316, and 319 of all or a portion of the geological formation may be damaged, thereby affecting or altering its geological characteristics (e.g., permeability).

In some aspects, the location of the bore 304 may be selected so as to be formed through the self-healing layer. For example, as shown, the bore 304 may be formed such that at least a portion of the vertical portion 306 of the bore 304 is formed through the self-healing layer. In some aspects, the self-healing layer comprises a geological formation that does not sustain cracks for long periods of time even after drilling through. Examples of geological layers in the self-healing layer include clay or dolomite. Fractures in such rock formations are easily repaired, that is, they quickly disappear over time due to the large subterranean pressures created by the relative ductility of the materials and the weight of the rock overlying the formation in the self-healing layer. In addition to providing a "repair mechanism" for fractures created as a result of forming the borehole 304 (e.g., drilling or otherwise), the self-healing layer may also provide a barrier to natural fractures and other fractures that may otherwise provide a path for hazardous materials (e.g., fluids or solids) to leak from the storage area (e.g., in the vertical relief 310) to the surface 302, the flowing water layer 314, or both.

As shown in this example, the vertically undulating portion 310 of the bore 304 includes a storage area 317 in a distal portion of the portion 310 in which the hazardous material may be retrievably placed for long term storage. For example, as shown, a service line pipe (string) 324 (e.g., pipe, coiled tubing, wireline, or otherwise) may extend into the cased borehole 304 to place one or more (three are shown, but possibly more or less) hazardous material tanks 326 into long-term, but in some aspects retrievable, storage in the section 310. For example, in the embodiment shown in fig. 3, the work line pipe 324 may include a downhole tool 328 coupled to a canister 326, and the downhole tool 328 may deposit a particular hazardous material canister 326 in the vertical undulation portion 310 with each trip into the borehole 304.

In some aspects, the downhole tool 328 may be coupled to the canister 326 by a threaded connection or other type of connection (e.g., a latching connection). In alternative aspects, the downhole tool 328 may be coupled to the canister 326 by an interlocking latch such that rotation (or linear motion or an electric or hydraulic switch) of the downhole tool 328 may be locked to the canister 326 (or unlocked from the canister 326). in alternative aspects, the downhole tool 324 may include one or more magnets (e.g., rare earth magnets, electromagnets, combinations thereof, or otherwise) that are attractively coupled to the canister 326. In some examples, the canister 326 may also include one or more magnets (e.g., rare earth magnets, electromagnets, combinations thereof, or otherwise) having an opposite polarity to the magnets on the downhole tool 324. In some examples, the canister 326 may be made of a ferrous material or other material that may attract the magnets of the downhole tool 324.

As another example, each canister 326 may be positioned within the bore 304 by a bore tractor (e.g., on a cable or otherwise) that may push or pull the canister into the vertical undulation portion 310 by a motorized (e.g., motorized) motion. As yet another example, each canister 326 may include or be mounted to a roller (e.g., a wheel) such that the downhole tool 324 may push the canister 326 into the cased borehole 304.

In some exemplary embodiments, one or more of the canister 326, the drill casings 320 and 322, or both, may be coated with a friction reducing coating prior to the storage operation. For example, by applying a coating (e.g., petroleum-based product, resin, ceramic, or otherwise) to the tank 326 and/or the borehole casing, the tank 326 may be more easily moved through the cased borehole 304 into the generally vertical undulating portion 310. In some aspects, only a portion of the drill casing may be coated. For example, in some aspects, the generally vertical portion 306 may not be coated, but the curved portion 308 or the vertical undulation portion 310 or both may be coated to facilitate easier storage and retrieval of the canister 326.

Fig. 3 also shows an example of a retrieval operation of hazardous material in the vertically undulating section 310 of the borehole 304. The retrieval operation may be reversed from the deposit operation such that a downhole tool 324 (e.g., a fishing tool) may be run into the borehole 304, coupled to the last deposited canister 326 (e.g., threaded, by a latch, by a magnet, or otherwise), and pull the canister 326 to the surface 302. The downhole tool 324 may make multiple retrieval strokes to retrieve multiple canisters from the vertically undulating section 310 of the borehole 304.

Each canister 326 may enclose hazardous materials. In some examples, such hazardous materials may be biological or chemical waste or other biological or chemical hazardous materials. In some examples, the hazardous material may include nuclear material, such as spent nuclear fuel or military nuclear material retrieved from a nuclear reactor (e.g., a commercial power reactor or a test reactor). For example, a gigawatt nuclear power plant may produce 30 tons of spent nuclear fuel per year. The density of the fuel is typically close to 10(10 mg/cm)310 kg/litre) so that the nuclear waste volume for one year is about 3m3. Spent nuclear fuel in the form of nuclear fuel pellets can be removed from the reactor without modification. The nuclear fuel pellets are solid, but they may also comprise andreleasing various radioactive gases including tritium (13 year half-life), krypton 85(10.8 year half-life), and carbon dioxide containing C-14 (5730 year half-life).

In some aspects, the storage layer 319 should be able to contain any radioactive output (e.g., gas) within the layer 319 even if such output escapes from the canister 326. For example, storage layer 319 may be selected based on the following conditions: the diffusion time of the radioactive output through the layer 319. For example, the minimum diffusion time for the radioactive output of the escape storage layer 319 may be set to be, for example, fifty times the half-life of any particular component of the nuclear fuel pellet. Fifty half-lives as the minimum diffusion time will reduce the amount of radioactivity output by 1 × 10-15And (4) doubling. As another example, setting the minimum diffusion time to thirty half-lives would reduce the amount of radioactivity output by a billion-fold.

For example, plutonium 239 is often considered a hazardous waste product in spent nuclear fuel due to its long half-life of 24100 years. For this isotope, 50 half-lives would be 120 ten thousand years. Plutonium 239 is low in solubility in water, is non-volatile, and, as a solid, cannot diffuse through the matrix of rock formations including the illustrated storage layer 319 (e.g., shale or other formations). For example, a reservoir 319 comprising shale may provide the ability to have such isolated time (e.g., millions of years) as indicated by a geological history of millions of years containing gaseous hydrocarbons (e.g., methane and others). In contrast, in conventional nuclear material storage methods, there is a danger that once the pack escapes, some plutonium may dissolve in the bedding including the groundwater.

As further shown in fig. 3, the storage tank 326 may be positioned in the vertical undulation 310 for long term storage, as shown, the vertical undulation 310 is coupled with the vertical portion 106 of the borehole 104 through the curved portion 308. As shown, the curved portion 308 includes an upwardly directed portion that slopes toward the earth's surface 302. Further, as shown, the undulating portion 310 of the borehole 304 includes a number of upwardly and downwardly (relative to the surface 302) sloping portions, thereby forming a number of peaks and valleys in the undulating portion 310. In some aspects, such inclinations of the curved portion 308 and the undulating portion 310 may provide further safety and containment, for example, when storing hazardous radioactive material in the canister 326, to prevent or impede material (even if leaking from the canister 326) from reaching, for example, the dynamic water layer 314, the vertical portion 306 of the borehole 304, the earth surface 302, or a combination thereof. For example, radionuclides of interest in hazardous materials tend to be relatively lighter or heavier (compared to other material constituents). Lighter radionuclides may be the most concern for leakage because heavy elements and molecules tend to sink rather than diffuse upward toward the surface 302. Krypton, and in particular krypton 85, is a relatively light radioactive element that is heavier than air (as most gases do) but much lighter than water. Thus, once krypton 85 is introduced into the water bath, this gas will tend to float upward toward the surface 302. Iodine, on the other hand, is more dense than water and will tend to diffuse downward if introduced into a water bath.

By including the curved portion 308 and the undulating portion 310 of the bore 304, any such diffusion of radioactive material (e.g., even if leaking from the tank 326 and in the presence of water or other liquid in the bore 304 or otherwise) will be directed toward the vertically undulating portion 310, and more specifically the peaks within the vertically undulating portion 310 and away from the curved portion 308 (and the vertical portion 306) of the bore 304. Thus, even a leaking hazardous material in the form of a diffusible gas does not get a path through the vertical portion 306 of the borehole 310 (e.g., directly) to the surface 302 (or the flowing water layer 314). For example, the leaked hazardous material (especially in gaseous form) will be guided and collected at the peak of the borehole portion 310, or generally within the vertically undulating portion 310 of the borehole 304.

Alternative methods of storing the canister 326 in the inclined bore portion 310 may also be implemented. For example, a fluid (e.g., a liquid or a gas) may be circulated through the borehole 304 to fluidly push the tank 326 into the inclined borehole portion 310. In some examples, each canister 326 may be fluidly pushed in separately. In an alternative aspect, two or more canisters 326 may be fluidly pushed through the bore 304 at the same time to be stored in the vertical relief 310. In some cases, the fluid may be water. Other examples include drilling mud or drilling foam. In some examples, a gas such as air, argon, or nitrogen may be used to push the canister 326 into the borehole.

In some aspects, the selection of the fluid may depend at least in part on the viscosity of the fluid. For example, a fluid having a sufficient viscosity may be selected to prevent the canister 326 from falling into the generally vertical portion 306. This resistance or impedance may provide a safety factor against the canister 326 being dropped suddenly. The fluid may also provide lubrication to reduce sliding friction between canister 326 and shells 320 and 322. The canister 326 may be delivered within a housing filled with a liquid of controlled viscosity, density and lubricating quality. The fluid-filled annular space between the inner diameter of shells 320 and 322 and the outer diameter of the delivered canister 326 represents a passageway designed to dampen any high rate of canister movement, thereby providing automatic passive protection in the unlikely event of disengagement of the delivered canister 326.

In some aspects, other techniques may be employed to facilitate storage of the canister 326 into the vertical undulation portion 310. For example, one or more of the installed casings (e.g., casings 320 and 322) may have rails to guide storage tank 326 into bore 302 while reducing friction between the casing and tank 326. The reservoir 326 and the shell (or rail) may be made of materials that slide easily against each other. The surface of the shell may be easily lubricated, or may be a self-lubricating surface, when subjected to the weight of the reservoir 326.

The fluid may also be used to retrieve the canister 326. For example, in an exemplary retrieval operation, the volume within shells 320 and 322 may be filled with a compressed gas (e.g., air, nitrogen, argon, or others). As the pressure at the end of the vertical undulation portion 310 increases, the canister 326 may be pushed toward the curved portion 308 and then through the generally vertical portion 306 to the surface.

In some aspects, the bore 304 may be formed for the primary purpose of long-term storage of hazardous materials. In an alternative aspect, the bore 304 may have been previously formed for the primary purpose of hydrocarbon production (e.g., oil, gas). For example, storage layer 319 may be a hydrocarbon containing formation from which hydrocarbons are produced into borehole 304 and to surface 302. In some aspects, storage layer 319 may have been hydraulically fractured prior to hydrocarbon production. Further, in some aspects, production casing 322 has been perforated prior to hydraulic fracturing. In these aspects, prior to storage operations of the hazardous material, the production shell 322 may be repaired (e.g., bonded) to repair any holes formed by the perforation process. In addition, any cracks or openings in the adhesive between the casing and the bore hole may also be filled at this time.

For example, in the case of spent nuclear fuel as a hazardous material, a borehole may be formed as a new borehole at a particular location (e.g., near a nuclear power plant) so long as the location also includes a suitable reservoir 319, such as a shale layer. Alternatively, an existing well that has produced shale gas or is abandoned as a "dry" well (e.g., having an organic content low enough that the gas content therein is too low for commercial exploitation) may be selected as the borehole 304. In some aspects, prior hydraulic fracturing of the storage layer 319 through the borehole 304 may have little effect on the hazardous material storage capacity of the borehole 304. However, such prior activities may also confirm the ability of the storage layer 319 to store gas and other fluids for millions of years. Thus, if hazardous materials or outputs of hazardous materials (e.g., radioactive gases or otherwise) are to escape from the tank 326 and enter the fractured layers of the storage layer 319, the fractures may allow the material to spread relatively quickly over distances commensurate with the size of the fractures. In some aspects, the borehole 302 may have been drilled to produce hydrocarbons, but such hydrocarbon production fails, for example, because the reservoir 319 comprises a formation (e.g., shale or otherwise) that is too ductile to fracture for production, but its ductility facilitates long-term storage of hazardous materials.

4A-4C are schematic diagrams of other exemplary embodiments of hazardous materials repository systems according to the present disclosure. Fig. 4A shows hazardous materials repository system 400, fig. 4B shows hazardous materials repository system 450, and fig. 4C shows hazardous materials repository system 480. Each of the systems 400, 450, and 480 includes a substantially vertical borehole (404, 454, and 484, respectively) drilled from the earth's surface (402, 452, and 482, respectively). Each generally vertical bore (404, 454, 484) is coupled to (or continues into) a transitional bore (406, 456, and 486, respectively), which is a curved or rounded bore. Each transition borehole (406, 456, and 486) is then coupled to (or proceeds into) an isolation borehole (408, 458, and 488, respectively) that includes or contains a hazardous materials repository into which one or more hazardous materials storage tanks (e.g., tank 126) may be placed for long-term storage and, if desired, retrieved in accordance with the present disclosure.

As shown in fig. 4A, isolation bore 408 is a helical bore that begins to curve horizontally at the point where it connects to transition bore 406 and at the same time begins to curve sideways, i.e., in a horizontal direction. Once the auger hole reaches its lowest point, it continues to bend in both directions causing it to spiral slightly upward. At this point, the horizontal curve may be made slightly larger so that the curve does not intersect the vertical bore 404. Once the auger hole begins to rise, the curved hazardous materials repository section may begin. The storage section may continue until the highest point (e.g., the point closest to the surface 402) that is a dead-end trap (e.g., a hazardous material solid, liquid, or gas for escape). The lead angle of the auger hole may typically be 3 degrees.

In some aspects, the path of the helical bore 408 may travel or shift along the axis of the helix (i.e., at the center of the helix circle). Further, as shown in FIG. 4A, vertical bore 404 is formed within spiral bore 408. In other words, the helical bore 408 may be formed symmetrically around the vertical bore 404. Turning briefly to fig. 4C, system 480 shows a helical bore 488 similar to helical bore 408. However, the helical bore 488 is formed offset to one side of the vertical bore 484. In some aspects, the auger bore 488 can be formed to be offset to either side of the vertical bore 484.

Turning to fig. 4B, the system 450 includes a helical bore 458 coupled to a transition bore 456 that turns from a vertical bore 454. Here, the helical bore 458 is not vertically oriented (e.g., has an axis of rotation parallel to the vertical bore), but rather is horizontally oriented (e.g., has an axis of rotation perpendicular to the vertical bore 454). The hazardous material storage section is located at the end of auger bore 458 or within auger bore 458 (or both).

In embodiments of systems 400, 450, and 480, the radius of curvature of the transition borehole may be about 1000 feet. The circumference of each helix in the helical bore may be about 2 pi times the radius of curvature, or about 6000 feet. Thus, each spiral in the auger bore may contain more than a mile in the storage area of the hazardous material tank. In some alternative aspects, the radius of curvature may be about 500 feet. Thus, each spiral of the auger hole may comprise about 0.5 miles of the storage area of the hazardous material tank. If a two mile reservoir is required, there may be four spirals for each auger hole of that size.

As shown in fig. 4A-4C, each of the systems 400, 450, and 480 includes a borehole portion that serves as a hazardous material storage area and is directed vertically toward the surface away from the intersection between the transition borehole of each system and the vertical borehole of each section. Thus, any leaked hazardous material (such as radioactive exhaust gas) can be directed to such vertically oriented storage areas and away from the vertical bore. Each of the boreholes shown in fig. 4A-4C may be cased or uncased; the shell may act as an additional protective layer to prevent hazardous materials from reaching the running water. If the jacket is omitted, the angle change to any bore will be faster, with the constraint of allowing movement of any canister therethrough. If a casing is present, the angular change in the direction of the borehole may be accomplished slowly enough (as they are in standard directional drilling) that the casing can be pushed into the borehole. Further, in some aspects, all or a portion of each illustrated isolation borehole (408, 458, and 488) may be formed in or under an impermeable layer (as described in this disclosure).

In some aspects, embodiments of the auger bore may have a constant curvature about the axis of rotation. Alternative embodiments of the helical bore may have a gradually changing curvature, thereby making the helix tighter or less constricted in the helical bore. Still additional embodiments of the helical bore may vary the radius of the helix (making it tighter or less tight), but have little or no vertical lead angle (e.g., may be useful where the hazardous material storage section of the isolation bore in the geological formation is not very thick in the vertical dimension).

Fig. 5A is a schematic top view diagram and fig. 5B-5C are schematic side views of another exemplary embodiment of a hazardous materials storage system. As shown, the system includes a vertical borehole 504 formed from the earth's surface 502. Vertical bore 504 is coupled to or continues into transition bore 506. The transition bore 506 is coupled or diverted into the isolation bore 508. In this example, the isolation bore 508 comprises or includes an undulating bore, wherein each undulation is generally laterally (edge-to-edge) arranged. As shown in fig. 5B, the isolation borehole 508 rises toward the surface 502 as it undulates laterally and is vertically distant from the transition borehole 506. As shown in fig. 5C, alternatively, when the isolation borehole 508 undulates in the lateral direction, it stays in a plane substantially parallel to the surface 502.

In some aspects, a helical or undulating borehole may be oriented regardless of the stress mode of any gas or oil bearing formation in which it is formed. This is because the orientation does not require any fracturing of the borehole to be taken into account as is the case in hydrocarbon production. Thus, a more compact drilling geometry that is not oriented in the direction of the rock stress pattern can be utilized. These boreholes can also have significant value in reducing the amount of land below which the boreholes are formed. This may also reduce the cost of land and any mineral property that must be purchased to allow the construction of a hazardous materials repository system. Thus, the borehole is not determined by stress patterns in the rock, but primarily by efficient and practical use of the available land.

Each of the boreholes shown in fig. 5A-5C may be cased or uncased; the shell may act as an additional protective layer to prevent hazardous materials from reaching the running water. If the jacket is omitted, the angle change to any bore will be faster, with the constraint of allowing movement of any canister therethrough. If a casing is present, the angular change in the direction of the borehole may be accomplished slowly enough (as they are in standard directional drilling) that the casing can be pushed into the borehole. Further, in some aspects, all or a portion of the isolation borehole 508 may (as described in this disclosure) be formed in or below the impermeable layer.

Referring generally to fig. 1A, 2, 3, 4A-4C, and 5A-5C, an exemplary hazardous materials storage reservoir system (e.g., 100, 200, 300, 400, 450, 480, and 500) may provide multiple layers of plugging to ensure that hazardous materials (e.g., biological, chemical, nuclear hazardous materials) are sealingly stored in the appropriate subterranean zone. In some example embodiments, there may be at least twelve layers of plugging. In alternative embodiments, a lesser or greater number of blocking layers may be employed.

First, using spent nuclear fuel as an exemplary hazardous material, the fuel pellets are removed from the reactor without modification. They may consist of sintered uranium dioxide (UO)2) Ceramic, and may remain solid and release various radioactive gases including tritium (13 year half life), krypton 85(10.8 year half life), and carbon dioxide containing C-14 (5730 year half life). Most radioisotopes, including C-14, tritium or krypton 85, will be contained in the pellets unless the pellets are exposed to extremely corrosive conditions or other effects that disrupt the multilayer seal.

Second, the fuel pellets are surrounded by the zirconium alloy tubes of the fuel rods, just as in a reactor. As described, these tubes can be installed in the original fuel assemblies, or removed from those assemblies for closer packing.

Third, the tube is placed in a sealed housing of the hazardous material tank. The housing may be a unified structure or a multi-panel structure in which multiple panels (e.g., sides, top, bottom) are mechanically fastened (e.g., by screws, rivets, welding, and others).

Fourth, a material (e.g., solid or fluid) may fill the hazardous-material tank to provide further buffering between the material and the exterior of the tank.

Fifth, the hazardous material tank(s) (as described above) is positioned in a bore hole lined with a steel or other sealed enclosure that, in some examples, extends throughout the bore hole (e.g., generally vertical portions, rounded portions, and inclined portions). The shell is bonded in place to provide a relatively smooth surface (e.g., as compared to the borehole wall) for the hazardous material tank to be moved therethrough, thereby reducing the likelihood of leakage or rupture during storage or retrieval.

Sixth, the adhesive that holds or helps hold the shell in place may also provide a sealing layer to contain the hazardous material once it has escaped from the tank.

Seventh, the hazardous material tank is stored in a portion (e.g., an inclined portion) of the borehole that is within a thick (e.g., 100-. For example, in the case of a formation where shale is the reservoir, this type of rock may provide some degree of plugging because shale is known to have been a seal for millions of years for hydrocarbon gases.

Eighth, in some aspects, the strata of the reservoir may have other unique geological characteristics that provide another level of plugging. For example, shale often contains reactive components, such as iron sulfide, that reduce the likelihood that hazardous materials (e.g., spent nuclear fuel and its radioactive output) can migrate through the reservoir without reacting in a manner that further reduces the diffusion rate of such output. Furthermore, the storage layer may comprise components, such as clays and organic substances, which generally have a very low diffusivity. For example, shale may be stratified and include thin alternating layers of clay and other minerals. Such stratification of rock formations in a reservoir such as shale may provide the additional seal.

Ninth, the storage layer may be located deeper below than an impermeable layer that separates the storage layer (e.g., in a vertical direction) from the hydrodynamic layer.

Tenth, a storage layer may be selected based on the depth of such layer within the subterranean formation (e.g., 3000 to 12000 feet). Such a depth is typically much lower than any layer containing mobile water, and therefore the absolute depth of the storage layer provides an additional blocking layer.

Eleventh, exemplary embodiments of the hazardous materials repository system of the present disclosure facilitate monitoring stored hazardous materials. For example, if the monitored data indicates that a hazardous material is leaking or otherwise (e.g., temperature change, radioactivity or otherwise) has occurred, or even that the canister is damaged or invaded, the hazardous material canister may be retrieved for repair or inspection.

Twelfth, one or more hazardous material tanks can be retrieved for periodic inspection, adjustment, or repair as needed (e.g., with or without monitoring). Thus, any problem with the canister can be solved without allowing the hazardous material to leak or escape from the failing canister.

Thirteenth, even if the hazardous material escapes from the tank and there is no impermeable layer between the leaking hazardous material and the surface, the leaking hazardous material may be contained within the borehole without an upward path to the surface or aquifer (e.g., dynamic water layer) or other area at risk to humans. For example, there may be no path directly up (e.g., towards the surface) to the vertical portion of the borehole at the location of the peak, which may be a J-section borehole, the end of an angled borehole, or a vertically undulating borehole.

A number of embodiments have been described. Nevertheless, it will be understood that various modifications may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the disclosure. For example, the exemplary operations, methods, or processes described herein may include more or fewer steps than those described. Further, the steps in such exemplary operations, methods, or processes may be performed in a different order than that described or illustrated in the figures. Accordingly, other implementations are within the scope of the following claims.

Claims (67)

1. A hazardous materials repository, comprising:
a borehole extending into the earth and including an entrance at least adjacent the earth's surface, the borehole including a substantially vertical borehole portion, a transition borehole portion coupled to the substantially vertical borehole portion, and a hazardous material storage borehole portion coupled to the transition borehole portion, at least one of the transition borehole portion or the hazardous material storage borehole portion including an isolation borehole portion directed vertically toward the earth's surface and away from an intersection between the substantially vertical borehole portion and the transition borehole portion;
a storage tank positioned in the hazardous materials storage bore portion, the storage tank sized to fit from the bore entrance through the generally vertical bore portion, the transition bore portion, and into the hazardous materials storage bore portion of the bore, the storage tank including an inner cavity sized to enclose hazardous materials; and
a seal located in the borehole, the seal isolating the hazardous material storage borehole portion of the borehole from the entrance to the borehole.
2. The hazardous material repository of claim 1, wherein the isolation borehole portion comprises a vertical angled borehole portion including a proximal end coupled to the transition borehole portion at a first depth and a distal end opposite the proximal end at a second depth shallower than the first depth.
3. The hazardous material storage repository of claim 2, wherein the vertically inclined bore section comprises the hazardous material storage bore section.
4. The hazardous material repository of claim 2, wherein the angle of inclination of the vertical angled bore portion is determined based at least in part on a distance associated with a disturbed area of the geological formation surrounding the vertical angled bore portion and a length of the distance tangent to the lowermost portion of the storage tank and the substantially vertical bore portion.
5. The hazardous material repository of claim 4, wherein the distance associated with the disturbed region of the geological formation comprises a distance between a periphery of the disturbed region and a radial centerline of the vertical angled borehole portion.
6. The hazardous material repository of claim 4, wherein the angle of inclination is about 3 degrees.
7. The hazardous material storage reservoir of claim 1, wherein the isolation borehole portion comprises a J-section borehole portion coupled between the substantially vertical borehole portion and the hazardous material storage borehole portion.
8. The hazardous material storage repository of claim 7, wherein the J-section bore portion comprises the transition bore portion.
9. The hazardous material storage repository of claim 7, wherein the hazardous material storage bore section comprises at least one of a substantially horizontal bore section or a vertical angled bore section.
10. The hazardous material storage repository of claim 1, wherein the isolation borehole portion comprises a vertical heave borehole portion coupled to the transition borehole portion.
11. The hazardous material repository of claim 10, wherein the transition borehole portion comprises a curved borehole portion between the substantially vertical borehole portion and the vertical undulating borehole portion.
12. The hazardous materials repository of claim 1, wherein the hazardous materials storage borehole is partially located within or below a barrier layer comprising at least one of a shale layer, a salt layer, or other impermeable layer.
13. The hazardous material storage repository of claim 12, wherein the hazardous material storage bore portion is vertically isolated from a subterranean zone including flowing water by the barrier layer.
14. The hazardous material storage repository of claim 12, wherein the hazardous material storage bore portion is formed below the barrier layer and is vertically isolated from a subterranean zone including flowing water by the barrier layer.
15. The hazardous material storage repository of claim 12, wherein the hazardous material storage bore is partially formed within the barrier layer and is vertically isolated from a subterranean zone including flowing water by at least a portion of the barrier layer.
16. The hazardous material storage reservoir of claim 12, wherein said barrier layer comprises a permeability of less than about 0.01 millidarcy.
17. The hazardous material storage reservoir of claim 12, wherein said barrier layer has a brittleness of less than about 10MPa, wherein brittleness comprises a ratio of a compressive stress of said barrier layer to a tensile strength of said barrier layer.
18. The hazardous material storage repository of claim 12, wherein the barrier layer has a thickness of at least about 100 feet proximate the hazardous material storage borehole portion.
19. The hazardous material storage reservoir of claim 12, wherein the thickness of the barrier layer proximate the hazardous material storage bore portion inhibits diffusion through the barrier layer of hazardous material escaping the storage tank within a time frame based on a half-life of the hazardous material.
20. The hazardous material storage container of claim 12, wherein said barrier layer comprises about 20% to 30% clay or organic matter by volume weight.
21. The hazardous material storage repository of claim 12, wherein the barrier layer comprises an impermeable layer.
22. The hazardous material repository of claim 12, wherein the barrier layer comprises a leakage barrier defined by a time constant for hazardous material leakage of 10000 years or more.
23. The hazardous material storage repository of claim 12, wherein the barrier layer comprises a hydrocarbon or carbon dioxide containing formation.
24. The hazardous material repository of claim 1, wherein the hazardous material comprises spent nuclear fuel.
25. The hazardous material storage repository of claim 1, further comprising at least one shell assembly extending from at or near the surface of the earth, through the borehole, and into the hazardous material storage borehole portion.
26. The hazardous material repository of claim 1, wherein the storage tank includes a connection portion configured to couple to at least one of a downhole tool string or another storage tank.
27. The hazardous material storage repository of claim 1, wherein the isolation borehole portion comprises a spiral borehole.
28. The hazardous material storage reservoir of claim 1, wherein the isolation borehole portion comprises a specific geometry that is independent of a stress state of a formation into which the isolation borehole portion is formed.
29. A method of storing hazardous material, comprising:
moving a storage tank through an entrance of a borehole extending into a ground surface, the entrance at least adjacent the ground surface, the storage tank comprising an interior cavity sized to enclose a hazardous material;
moving the storage tank through the borehole, the borehole including a substantially vertical borehole portion, a transition borehole portion coupled to the substantially vertical borehole portion, and a hazardous material storage borehole portion coupled to the transition borehole portion, at least one of the transition borehole portion or the hazardous material storage borehole portion including an isolation borehole portion directed vertically toward the earth's surface and away from an intersection between the substantially vertical borehole portion and the transition borehole portion;
moving the storage tank into the hazardous materials storage bore portion; and
forming a seal in the borehole, the seal isolating a storage portion of the borehole from the entrance of the borehole.
30. The method of claim 29, wherein the isolation bore portion comprises a vertically angled bore portion comprising a proximal end coupled to the transition bore portion at a first depth and a distal end opposite the proximal end at a second depth shallower than the first depth.
31. The method of claim 29, wherein the vertically inclined bore portion comprises the hazardous material storage bore portion.
32. The method of claim 29, wherein the angle of inclination of the vertically inclined borehole portion is determined based at least in part on a distance associated with a disturbed area of the geological formation surrounding the vertically inclined borehole portion and a length of a distance tangent to a lowermost portion of the storage tank and the substantially vertical borehole portion.
33. The method of claim 32, wherein the distance associated with the disturbed region of the geological formation comprises a distance between a periphery of the disturbed region and a radial centerline of the vertical angled borehole portion.
34. The method of claim 32, wherein the tilt angle is about 3 degrees.
35. The method of claim 29, wherein the isolation borehole portion comprises a J-section borehole portion coupled between the substantially vertical borehole portion and the hazardous material storage borehole portion.
36. The method of claim 35, wherein the J-section bore portion comprises the transition bore portion.
37. The method of claim 36, wherein the hazardous material storage bore portion comprises at least one of a substantially horizontal bore portion or a vertically angled bore portion.
38. The method of claim 29, wherein the isolation borehole portion comprises a vertically undulating borehole portion coupled to the transition borehole portion.
39. The method of claim 29, wherein the transition bore portion comprises a curved bore portion between the substantially vertical bore portion and the vertically undulating bore portion.
40. The method of claim 29, wherein the hazardous material storage borehole is partially located within or below a barrier layer comprising at least one of a shale layer, a salt layer, or other impermeable layer.
41. The method of claim 40, wherein the hazardous material storage borehole is partially vertically isolated from a subterranean zone containing mobilized water by the barrier layer.
42. The method of claim 40, wherein the hazardous material storage borehole is partially formed below the barrier layer and is vertically isolated from a subterranean zone including mobilized water by the barrier layer.
43. The method of claim 40, wherein the hazardous material storage borehole is partially formed within the barrier layer and is vertically isolated from a subterranean zone including flowing water by at least a portion of the barrier layer.
44. The method of claim 40, wherein the barrier layer comprises a permeability of less than about 0.01 millidarcy.
45. The method of claim 40, wherein the barrier layer has a brittleness of less than about 10MPa, wherein brittleness comprises a ratio of a compressive stress of the barrier layer to a tensile strength of the barrier layer.
46. The method of claim 39 wherein the thickness of the barrier layer proximate the hazardous material storage borehole portion is at least about 100 feet.
47. The method of claim 40, wherein the thickness of the barrier layer proximate the hazardous material storage bore portion inhibits diffusion of hazardous material escaping the storage tank through the barrier layer for a time frame based on a half-life of the hazardous material.
48. The method of claim 40, wherein the barrier layer comprises about 20% to 30% clay or organic material by volume weight.
49. The method of claim 40, wherein the barrier layer comprises an impermeable layer.
50. The method of claim 40, wherein the barrier layer comprises a leakage barrier defined by a time constant for leakage of hazardous material of 10000 years or more.
51. The method of claim 40 wherein the barrier layer comprises a hydrocarbon or carbon dioxide containing formation.
52. The method of claim 29, wherein the hazardous material comprises spent nuclear fuel.
53. The method of claim 29, further comprising at least one jacket assembly extending from at or near the surface of the earth, through the borehole, and into the hazardous material storage borehole portion.
54. The method of claim 29, wherein the storage tank comprises a connection portion configured to couple to at least one of a downhole tool string or another storage tank.
55. The method of claim 29, further comprising:
forming a borehole from the earth's surface to an earth formation prior to moving the storage tank through the inlet extending into the borehole in the earth's surface.
56. The method of claim 55, further comprising: installing a casing in the borehole, the casing extending from at or near the earth's surface, through the borehole, and into the hazardous material storage borehole portion.
57. The method of claim 56, further comprising: bonding the shell to the borehole.
58. The method of claim 57, further comprising: after the borehole is formed, hydrocarbon fluids are produced from the formation, through the borehole, and to the surface.
59. The method of claim 29, further comprising:
removing the seal from the bore; and
retrieving the storage tank from the hazardous materials storage borehole portion to the surface.
60. The method of claim 29, further comprising:
monitoring at least one variable associated with the storage tank with a sensor located proximate the hazardous materials storage borehole portion; and
recording the monitored variable at the surface.
61. The method of claim 60, wherein the monitored variable comprises at least one of radiation level, temperature, pressure, presence of oxygen, presence of water vapor, presence of liquid water, acidity, or seismic activity.
62. The method of claim 61, further comprising: based on the monitored variable exceeding the threshold:
removing the seal from the bore; and
retrieving the storage tank from the hazardous materials storage borehole portion to the surface.
63. The method of claim 29, wherein the isolation borehole portion comprises a helical borehole.
64. A method of storing hazardous material, comprising:
moving a storage tank through an entrance of a borehole extending into a ground surface, the entrance at least adjacent the ground surface, the storage tank comprising an interior cavity sized to enclose a hazardous material;
moving the storage tank through the borehole, the borehole including a generally vertical borehole portion, a transition borehole portion coupled to the generally vertical borehole portion, and a hazardous material storage borehole portion coupled to the transition borehole portion, the hazardous material storage borehole portion located below a self-repairing geological formation through which the hazardous material storage borehole portion is vertically isolated from a subterranean zone including live water;
moving the storage tank into the hazardous materials storage bore portion; and
forming a seal in the borehole, the seal isolating a storage portion of the borehole from the entrance of the borehole.
65. The method of claim 64, wherein the self-healing geological formation comprises at least one of shale, salt, clay, or dolomite.
66. A hazardous materials repository, comprising:
a borehole extending into the earth and including an entrance at least adjacent the earth's surface, the borehole including a generally vertical borehole portion, a transition borehole portion coupled to the generally vertical borehole portion, and a hazardous material storage borehole portion coupled to the transition borehole portion, the hazardous material storage borehole portion being located below a self-repairing geological formation through which the hazardous material storage borehole portion is vertically isolated from a subterranean region including flowing water;
a storage tank positioned in the hazardous materials storage bore portion, the storage tank sized to fit from the bore entrance through the generally vertical bore portion, the transition bore portion, and into the hazardous materials storage bore portion of the bore, the storage tank including an inner cavity sized to enclose hazardous materials; and
a seal located in the borehole, the seal isolating the hazardous material storage borehole portion of the borehole from the entrance to the borehole.
67. The hazardous materials repository of claim 66, wherein the self-healing geological formation comprises at least one of shale, salt, clay or dolomite.
CN201880049476.0A 2017-06-05 2018-06-05 Storing hazardous materials in a formation CN110945603A (en)

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